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DHS Proposes Changes to Immigration and Travel Forms to Collect Social Media Information

Earlier today, DHS proposed changes to several immigration-related and travel-related forms, publishing a 60-day notice and request for comments in the Federal Register. The proposed changes will allow DHS to collect social media information from applicants seeking immigration-related benefits and from individuals seeking to be admitted into the United States. The immigration-related forms DHS is proposing to add the social media questions to include the N-400 (naturalization), I-131 (advanced parole), I-485 (adjustment of status), I-751 (removal of conditions), and others. The data collection is justified under the guise of advanced screening and vetting standards for the national security of the United States. But given this administration’s track record, it appears to be nothing more than an additional obstacle designed to stymie immigration and provide immigration officers additional pretexts to deny intending immigrants benefits and/or admission into the U.S. We will have to monitor implementation of the rule closely. Comments to the proposed changes are due November 4, 2019.

 

Copied from DHS:

 

New Information To Be Collected

U.S. Government departments and agencies involved in screening and vetting, to include DHS, identified the collection of social media user identifications (also known as usernames, identifiers, or “handles”) and associated publicly available social media platforms used by the applicant during the past five years, as important for identity verification, immigration and national security vetting. For DHS, these data elements will be added to certain immigration benefit request or traveler forms where the information was not already collected.

For the purposes of this information collection, DHS defines publicly available social media information as any electronic social media information that has been published or broadcast for public consumption, is available on request to the public, is accessible online to the public, is available to the public by subscription or purchase, or is otherwise lawfully accessible to the public without establishing a direct relationship (e.g., “friend”, “follow”, “connect”).[1Social media takes many different forms, including but not limited to web-based communities and hosted services, social networking sites, video and photo sharing sites, blogs, virtual worlds, social bookmarking and other emerging technologies.

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