Can Social Media Affect My Immigration Case?
Given that 90% of the U.S. population actively uses social media in 2023, it’s more important than ever to understand the potential repercussions of our online activity—especially for members of disadvantaged groups, including U.S. immigrants.
The reality is that social media accounts can influence the outcome of any immigration case, from applying for naturalization to obtaining a family-based green card. That’s why it’s imperative for noncitizens and their families to understand the risks and take proactive measures to keep potential issues to a minimum, as a denial by USCIS for any reason can result in significant wait times and even removal from the United States.
Are applicants’ social media accounts subject to surveillance by the U.S. government in immigration cases? Keep reading to learn more about safeguarding your reputation and online image while involved in U.S. immigration proceedings.
Does USCIS Monitor Social Media Accounts?
Yes. Put simply, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can and will screen social media accounts and online activity when evaluating applicants and immigration cases. This entails reviewing any public information that noncitizens may post on various platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and more.
Keep in mind that USCIS will only examine content that is relevant to the matter at hand, meaning they will primarily evaluate social media use to verify information provided by the applicant on their application. Other legal purposes include:
- Detecting any fraudulent activity
- Identify threats to national security
- Screening for unauthorized employment
- Conducting and confirming background checks
- Screening for marriage fraud (e.g. conditional green card applicants)
Social media activity can be used as grounds for inadmissibility to the U.S. This means that USCIS can deny applicants based on their online history. For example, if an old social media post is perceived as suggestive of gang violence, the applicant may be rejected on the basis of it, regardless of true involvement with any illicit activity.
Are Immigrants Required to Disclose Online Information?
Yes. Applicants wishing to obtain a green card (lawful permanent residence), successfully complete the naturalization process, or resolve any other immigration matter in the U.S. must comply with USCIS regulations, including the disclosure of all social media accounts.
It’s worth noting that USCIS will not demand applicants’ passwords, but all social media account handles (usernames) used within the last 5 years.
What if USCIS Flags Inappropriate Social Media Content?
If USCIS flags any inappropriate online activity, the repercussions will vary depending on the unique circumstances at hand. Depending on the severity of the case in question, the following penalties can apply:
- Investigation – Applicants suspected of fraud or other illicit activity may be subject to an investigation. USCIS has the power to investigate potential immigration fraud. This could involve reviewing documents, conducting interviews, and other investigative methods.
- “Notice of Intent to Deny” (NOID) – If USCIS finds evidence of fraud during its investigation, it may issue a Notice of Intent to Deny. This provides the applicant with an opportunity to present additional evidence or arguments against the suspected fraud.
- Denial of the application – If the applicant cannot satisfactorily address the concerns raised in the NOID, or if USCIS determines that fraud has occurred, the application could be denied.
- Referral to immigration court – In some cases, USCIS may refer the case to the Immigration Court for removal proceedings, particularly if the individual is in the U.S. and the alleged fraud makes them removable under immigration law.
- Criminal charges – Depending on the severity of the fraud, USCIS might also refer the case to the appropriate law enforcement agency for possible criminal prosecution.
- Legal inadmissibility to the U.S. – An individual found to have committed fraud or willful misrepresentation to obtain immigration benefits is generally inadmissible to the U.S. This means they could be denied a visa, denied admission to the U.S., or denied adjustment of status to legal permanent resident (green card holder).
Social Media & U.S. Immigration: 6 Best Practices
To give yourself the best possible chance of success in your immigration case, noncitizens are strongly encouraged to adhere to certain best practices, including:
- Reviewing social media accounts for inappropriate content
- Keeping an eye on friends and followers who leave comments
- Deleting content (such as humorous videos or memes) that may be misconstrued as violent or offensive by others
- Keeping your settings private and/or limit potentially sensitive posts to friends and followers only
- Being cautious when leaving comments and engaging with other users
- Not accepting friend or follower requests from users you don’t know
Turn to a Trusted Immigration Attorney in Miami
Since 2014, Hubbs Law, P.A. has dedicated itself to serving noncitizens and their loved ones throughout Miami-Dade County. From applying for naturalization to fighting a removal order, compassionate immigration attorneys have firsthand experience with how complex and uncertain immigration disputes can be—a frustration often amplified by time-consuming USCIS processes and expensive costs.
That’s why our skilled advocates are here to help. With almost a decade of experience handling a broad range of immigration cases, you can count on our firm to prioritize your unique needs while fighting tirelessly to obtain the legal result you desire and deserve. If you're facing an immigration dispute in Florida, don't wait to secure the experienced representation you require to avoid life-changing repercussions in court.
Facing an immigration dispute in Miami? Turn to a firm you can trust to prioritize your needs. Call (305) 570-4802 to schedule a free consultation.