At a glance
- DHS is seeking to request social media information from some applicants for immigration benefits, including Visa Waiver Program travelers, applicants for adjustment of status and naturalization applicants.
- Requested information will include social media platforms used, usernames and handles, similar to the information currently collected by the Department of State from visa applicants.
- The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to collect five years of social media history from applicants for certain immigration benefits, including Visa Waiver Program travelers and, adjustment of status and naturalization applicants, according to a Federal Register notice published today.
If DHS implements the proposal, it would add social media questions to a range of USCIS and CBP forms and systems. The proposed changes are similar to the State Department's recent addition of social media questions to the applications for U.S. nonimmigrant and immigrant visas.
DHS officials already use publicly available social media information to determine eligibility for immigrant benefits, but thus far the agency has not requested information directly from applicants. Any social media profiles, postings, or details that appear inconsistent with eligibility for an immigration benefit could result in delayed adjudication or denial of the benefit.
The agency will accept public feedback on the proposal through November 4.
A closer look
DHS is proposing to solicit the following information from foreign nationals applying for certain immigration benefits:
- Social media platforms used in the last five years; and
- Usernames for each platform. Passwords would not be requested and should not be provided.
DHS plans to add social media questions to the following forms and systems:
- ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and Form I-94W, Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record for Visa Waiver Program travelers;
- EVUS (Electronic Visa Update System) for Chinese nationals traveling to the U.S. as business visitors or tourists;
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, used to apply for advance parole and reentry permits, among other benefits;
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status for those applying for a green card through USCIS;
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence for certain marriage-based green card beneficiaries;
- Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status for EB-5 green card beneficiaries; and
- Form N-400 naturalization applications.
Employment-based petitions such as Form I-129 and Form I-140 are not included in the proposed DHS revision.
Separately, DHS is also proposing to create a minimum standard for collection of identifying information from applicants across these same immigration forms and systems.
Impact of the proposal and next steps
The proposed changes do not have immediate impact on immigration benefits applicants, but are the latest step in DHS's continuing efforts to implement President Trump's 2017 memorandum on "extreme vetting" of applicants for immigration benefits. The proposal will only take effect after the agency receives federal approval of changes to the affected immigration forms and systems and has made them publicly available.
If your organization would like to submit comments on the proposal, please contact your designated Fragomen team or the firm's Government Strategies and Compliance Group.
Fragomen is monitoring the proposed changes and will provide updates as developments occur.
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