Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘USCIS Social Media Monitoring’

30th October 2010

In recent weeks, some websites have been abuzz with information pertaining to a recent memorandum from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which discussed Social Media platforms and their relevance in the context of United States Immigration.  To quote sections of the memo directly, as posted on the EFF.org (Electronic Frontier Foundation) website:

The Internet has made it increasingly easier for people to get connected with each other whether that is with long-distance family, fiiends [sic], or to find new loves and friendships. Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Classmates, Hi-5, and other similar sites are designed to allow people to share their creativity, pictures, and information with others. Sometimes people do this to find romance, sometimes they do it to find fiiends [sic] with similar interests, and sometimes they do it to keep in touch with family…This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities. Generally, people on these sites speak honestly in their network because all of their friends and family are interacting with them via lM’s (Instant Messages), Blogs (Weblog journals), etc. This social networking gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive CIS about their relationship.

Visa and Immigration Fraud are fundamental concerns of the Department of Homeland Security, the USCIS, and Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). Therefore, investigation into the bona fides of a relationship that is the basis for submission of a visa petition can be rather routine in circumstances where a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident has submitted a petition for immigration benefits on behalf of a foreign loved one. That said, the implications of USCIS’s monitoring social media sites can be somewhat unnerving for many as evidenced by a recent quote from a blog post on the ImmigrationEquality.org website:

While we would never encourage anyone to engage in immigration fraud, it is disturbing to think of government officials “friending” unknowing immigrants to use the information in their personal posts against them. In these times of technology speeding forward, it’s important to remember that when you post anything on a public site you have to anticipate that it could be used against you.

Immigration fraud is a serious issue as the integrity of United States immigration law must be upheld both by those seeking immigration benefits and those adjudicating immigration petitions. New technologies offer new ways to stay connected to friends, family, and loved ones in a global context.  However, comments made on social media sites which may seem innocuous or humorous to an online poster at the time of a comment’s posting could be taken out of context by immigration adjudicators who are not personally acquainted with the person or persons making such comments. At the end of the day, the main themes that may be gleaned from the recent revelation of this memo: DO NOT EVER attempt to defraud the U.S. government in an attempt to obtain immigration benefits and even those seeking immigration benefits for bona fide reasons should be cognizant of the fact that information posted on social media websites could, at some point, be heavily scrutinized by immigration officers and/or adjudicators.

For related information please see: US Visa Processing Time or I-601 waiver.

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