After I-526 approval, EB-5 visa applicants who live outside the U.S. must file a form DS-260 for consular processing in order to receive permanent resident status. And now the Department of State (DOS) is requiring DS-260 forms to fully disclose the applicant’s social media activity of the last five years as a part of Eb 5 process.
15 million applicants in search of a Green Card by investment will be affected by this disclosure requirement. The disclosure applies only to public-facing social media content and is limited usernames and “handles” but not passwords. The list of social media platforms includes the following:
- Qzone (QQ)
- Sina Weibo
- Tencent Weibo
- Vkontakte (VK)
DOS requested this addition to the EB-5 application process to both enhance the screening of applicants and increase the security of the U.S. public. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved this request despite public concerns about privacy, free speech and the potential for misinterpretation.
Critics of this new requirement certainly have some evidence on their side. The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law wrote a paper that shows how similar disclosure requirements in other programs have led to misinterpretation by Department of Homeland Security agents. This misinterpretation has resulted in wrongly based visa denials.
Failure to properly comply with this disclosure requirement has serious implications. Such an act could be construed as a material misrepresentation, which in turn could lead to a significant delay, denial of a visa application, fraud charges, and even a lifetime ban from entry into the U.S.
The message is clear: when the Department of State wants to be your social media “friend,” you better play nicely and not hide anything.
Read the Green and Spiegel blog on DS-260 social media disclosure.