Could your social media activity be hurting your immigration case without you even knowing it? According to recent news from the Guardian, USCIS has been secretly monitoring the online social media activity of hundreds of immigrants without them even realizing it. They then use this information to decide whether they will approve or deny your immigration case.
But exactly what is USCIS looking for and how much can they really see? And what are they actually going to do with that information? And what actions should you take to make sure that you are not accidentally hurting your immigration case? We're going to answer all of these questions right now.
My name is Moumita Rahman, and I have been practicing immigration law for the past 13 years. If you would like our assistance on your case, give our office a call at 212-248-7907 to find out how we can help. I am based in New York City. However, I work with immigrants all over the United States.
So why is USCIS collecting your social media activity and information online? And how much can they actually see?
According to recent data, USCIS is collecting information to understand whether there are discrepancies between your information that you submit on the applications and what they see online. In particular when it comes to employment history, residential history, and marital status. They are looking for any differences between what you wrote on the forms that you have provided to them and what they see online.
And here is the troubling part, all of the information that they find, all of the images, all of the posts, everything that they find, no matter what it is or whether it is true or whether it is useful, is immediately saved to your file and kept for as long as they want.
And we know that USCIS may not just be stopping at what they can find online because we have been seeing that persons have been receiving notifications that USCIS has been requesting their activity and other information that is not publicly available online, including online search history and what groups they may be a part of. So not only can they get your information from publicly available accounts on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn, but they can also request information from those agencies directly.
And their goal is definitely to find out whether your case is approvable or not. Not only are you looking for discrepancies in your information, but they're also looking for information that may flag you as a potential national security risk. To see whether you will engage in unauthorized activity, to see whether you have engaged in authorized employment, or whether you have made false statements on your immigration case.
For example, if you are filing for a marriage immigration case, but your Facebook profile says that you single or shows you with pictures of somebody other than your spouse, then that is going to be information that USCIS may use to deny your marriage case and possibly even accuse you of marriage fraud.
Or if you file an application with the help of your employer through an employment sponsored green card application. However, you get tagged in a post where it shows that you're working somewhere other than that employer, then that could also cast doubt on whether your employment application is true and correct.
They can also use social media to draw connections between you and others who might be engaged in immigration fraud or other suspicious criminal activity that may harm your case as well.
So you want to take those necessary steps to make sure you protect your identity as well as your information online, and also make sure to not engage in things that may end up being harmful activities that seem like they're harmless, such as making a sarcastic joke that can be taken out of context and potentially misunderstood and used against you.
But before I move on, if you are interested in learning more about the immigration process and how you can navigate better through this difficult journey, make sure to subscribe to my channel right here on YouTube and turn on the notification button so that you're ready to watch any update that I provide.
So what steps should you take to protect yourself from USCIS using and harvesting your information online to deny your application?
First, before you even submit anything to immigration, go through yourself online. For example, you can Google yourself to see what comes up or make sure you know where your social media accounts are. See what it says and take small steps such as turning your profile from public to private, removing any harmful posts such as jokes or pictures, or endorsements of violent activity, illegal activity, anything that could be misunderstood or construed or held against you in any sort of way.
Make sure you're not bragging about anything illicit or illegal as well. And don't forget that even though marijuana use may be legalized in many states across the United States, it is still considered to be a federal offense. So make sure you remove any pictures or mentions or anything having to do with marijuana as well.
Remember that good war character is a serious requirement for naturalization. So you want to be very mindful that these posts may not only impact your ability to become a green card holder, but can also affect your ability to become a U.S. citizen in the future.
Next, update your visibility preferences. This is the simplest thing that you can do. So make sure that your profiles are set to private and not public. However, keep in mind that if you are tagged in certain posts, those posts may be public as well, even if your posts are not public. So make sure you check that setting as well.
This is something that should go without saying, but also don't just accept posts from random people who you do not know. Oftentimes these friend requests are not from friends. These could be fake profiles set up by USCIS, trying to see if you'll add them so that they can get into your account and see what you've been posting about.
Next, make sure that any information that you provide on your applications is 100% consistent with your information online. This should also include not just whether you're married or in a relationship, but also where you live, where you have lived, where you currently work, or have worked in the past.
Also, if you tell immigration that you're not affiliated with certain groups or political organizations, yet you show up as a member or a follower of those organizations that can also open you up to questioning. Make sure your online profiles show where you currently work and not old outdated information so that it's current with what you submit on your application.
Assume that everything you post is public, even if you think it's private. Don't post anything that you wouldn't want your mother to hear about. Next, remember that anyone can take screenshots of what you post. So that's even more reason to be careful about what you post, even if your profiles are already private.
Avoid posting anything that is too overtly political. USCIS does use social media to identify potential terrorist threats or threats to national security, so things that may possibly be associated with radical groups or radical speech or hate speech can be a red flag in your case. In fact, even though we do have freedom of speech in this country, until you're a U.S. citizen I would actually recommend that you just avoid posting about controversial topics.
And pay attention to what friends you have online. If your friends may be involved in activities or may be associated with groups that may be questionable, consider unfollowing them until your case is approved.
And don't go completely silent online either. If you're submitting a marriage based application, if you have no activity and no proof of your relationship being posted online, that can be a little bit strange and a red flag for a USCIS also. So go ahead and post pictures of you and your spouse together.
And this should go without saying, but never falsify any information that you submit to USCIS. USCIS is going to eventually find out the truth. So make sure your online activity is straightforward and honest.
There's a lot that I cover, so make sure you leave me comments with your questions below and I'll do a follow up video answering your questions.
Immigrants can actually have additional responsibilities once they actually get approved for their green card. There are certain things that you must do and that you must be knowledgeable about, and there are certain things that you should not do when you have a green card. I discussed all of these in this video talking about 16 things that you must know about when you are a green card holder.
🔷 Link to the Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/sep/05/us-immigration-homeland-security-social-media-fake-profiles
☎️ To schedule a case evaluation, call Moumita's office at (212) 248-7907 or visit her website here: Contact
☎️ Para agendar una evaluación de su caso, llame a la oficina de Moumita al (212) 248-7907 o visite su sitio web aquí: Contáctenos
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