On May 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of State added required questions about social media accounts or identifiers to the online nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application forms, the DS-160 and DS-260. This means that anyone applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa (a temporary visa) or a U.S. immigrant visa (permanent residence, a green card) must disclose all social media accounts used in the last five years. Social media presumably will be reviewed by U.S. Consular personnel in the course of visa adjudications.
The forms do not request visa applicants’ social media password/login data; however, visa applicants may want to review their social media accounts and adjust privacy settings prior to the visa application process. (To be clear, actual grounds of inadmissibility to the U.S. still apply to an applicant even if evidence of such grounds on social media is hidden due to privacy settings. A visa applicant must provide truthful answers to all questions in a visa application, including questions about inadmissibility grounds.) The new visa application forms have a dropdown list of social media types to select and identify, and this element of the application cannot be skipped. The failure to disclose any accounts may be considered a misrepresentation, which can have long-reaching consequences to the ability to immigrate to the U.S.
For prospective visitors to the U.S. for tourism or business whose country of citizenship allows them to travel to the U.S. without a visitor visa under the Visa Waiver Program, it is noteworthy that the required pre-registration in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) requests social media identifiers, but the disclosure is optional on that form at this time.
© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2019