To Post or Not to Post: Tips on how to Handle the New Visa Screening Requirements

Last weekend, the Trump Administration announced it would begin requiring the submission of social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers from all U.S. visa applicants. This change is expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States each year. In light of this new development, we would like to share some simple helpful tips on how to handle your social media, email, or phone accounts if you plan on applying for a U.S. visa now or in the future.

Tip 1: Before you do anything, you can check and (if necessary) adjust your social media privacy settings so that non-friends or followers cannot see your posts, snap chats, photos, etc. as well as friends/followers list.

Tip 2: Go back into your history and delete posts, photos, chats, emails (if any) that you believe might compromise your ability to obtain a visa. These could include posts, articles, photos or other content that are negatively critical of the U.S. government or its policies. On the flip side, posts or articles that praise enemies of the U.S. should be taken down as well. Furthermore, do not neglect to delete or hide photos that depict personal inappropriate personal behavior borderline or otherwise as well as substance abuse. The same rule of thumb applies to emails and texts.

Tip 3: Last, but certainly not least, avoid posting, sharing, liking or commenting on future posts that might compromise your ability to obtain a visa, such as those mentioned in tip 2.

When in doubt, the most important thing to keep in mind is if you believe an email, text or post on your social media account could jeopardize your ability to qualify for a visa, then either take it down or avoid posting it. As a non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you do not have First Amendment Free Speech protections and officers of the State Department and consulate offices have broad discretion to deny you a visa. If they do issue a denial, the stated reason for doing so is usually not a specific one and in some circumstances, no reason for denial is stated. The last thing any applicant would want, is to make an officer’s visa rejection easier to justify.

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