Yes, Facebook and Twitter Posts Can Forever Ban You From the United States
American Embassies and Consulates from London to Lisbon to Lebanon and beyond have put into effect the Trump Administration’s determination to implement global extreme vetting for foreign nationals applying for permission to enter the United States.
Individuals around the world have been impacted: students; visitors; college professors; refugees; IT professionals; healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and other professional or skilled individuals; and laborers.
This first extreme vetting measure has already burdened an over-burdened immigration and visa system—slowing the visa application process to weeks, months, and possibly years for some applicants.
As part of this initial roll-out, a “supplemental questionnaire” has been released for immigrant and non-immigrant US visa applicants. The questionnaire—DS Form-5535—seeks information including all social media handles, platforms and identifiers, email addresses, and phone numbers for five years. Also required are address, employment, and travel history (and how each trip was paid for), for the last decade and a half. Applicants must also provide the names and contact details for any spouse (now or in the past), all siblings, and children, dead or alive.
When the questionnaire is received, the State Department puts the answers through a detailed, individualized review that could take days, months, or years. Oddly, because of this vetting, visa officers are required to spend dozens of work hours and days studying Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles and posts for thousands across the globe.
While this first measure is set to expire in November 2017, reports indicate that the State Department is updating the questionnaire with the intent of making it a permanent part of the visa process.
The key to compliance with extreme vetting is a team of extremely knowledgeable, accurate, detailed, and experienced immigration attorneys—regardless of the process. One mistake can have severe, long-lasting—if not lifetime—consequences. Be careful what you post. Be smart when applying. If you have any questions about this post, or other immigration issues, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.