More and more visitors to the United States are being denied entry by U.S. border officials after a review of their social media and other online accounts. In late August a 17-year old incoming Harvard Freshman from Lebanon was denied entry and deported before the start of the school year after immigration officers at Boston’s Logan Airport had concerns about his friends’ social media posts.
The new immigration regulations announced in May 2019 are expected to affect 15 million foreigners who apply for Visas to enter the United States each year and apply to applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. The state department estimates it will affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million nonimmigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the U.S. for business or education.
The U.S. State Department will be reviewing social media for all Visa requests and asking additional new questions during the Visa process. The State Department has updated immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to require that visa applicants submit a 5-year social media history:
- their social media accounts
- “social identifiers” including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- provide any social media account names they may have used during the previous 5 years
- identify any social platforms not included in the form
In announcing Collection of Social Media Identifiers from U.S. Visa Applicants, the State Department said:
"We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information, and previous addresses from all visa applicants. Collecting this additional information from visa applicants will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity."
The new social media rules were published in the Federal Register in March 2018. Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types are exempt from the new social identifier requirements. Previously, only a small number of visa applicants who were singled out for additional inspection were required to submit their social media, email and phone number history.
American Customs and Border Protection Officers have broad discretionary powers. If you are concerned about your eligibility to travel to the United States or if you have been you may be refused entry, contact Ackah Law today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly before attempting to travel to the U.S. again.