Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) December 12, 2017 - The current administration has demonstrated that immigration is one of its central concerns. With plans to build a border wall, executive orders and policies an uncertain future is forming for immigration. Now, a new policy outlines what information the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department can collect.
On September 18, 2017 the Federal Register released a notice, which sparked bewilderment. The notice dealt with what information the government may keep if someone applies for any immigration benefits. It is important to understand that anyone may apply for a benefit and when they do, a file is opened for them. In the case of an immigrant applying for benefits, the file is referred to as an A File.
“The USCIS keeps information on applicants, plus retains any material sent by the applicant or the applicant’s attorney. Much of the information sent is in the form of paper copies,” explained noted Huston immigration attorney, Annie Banerjee. “The notice says USCIS is now intending to include e-materials as well.” The changes went into effect October 18, 2017.
This development is not new. The USCIS already uses the internet to verify stated facts in an application. An example would be if an individual filed a marriage-based application but his Facebook profile shows he is single and dating. The onus is on the government to verify information on an application. “The only new piece of information in this notice is the fact that the government is now saying that they intend to ‘retain’ such intelligence,” added Banerjee.
Items that the government may now start to keep for individual applicants include:
· The name of the applicant’s attorney,
· All paper-filed information, and
· Medical records provided to USCIS for a permanent resident (green card) applicant
For businesses, the USCIS may keep information regarding transactional records.
The notice for the USCIS applies to not only new immigrants, but also existing green card holders and naturalized citizens; therefore, if an individual was born in the United States the FBI has jurisdiction to check public records, such as social media postings. Furthermore, the notice includes another new piece of information that applies to applicants — they may also be asked to open social media pages that have been closed to verify information on an application form.
The federal notice is not introducing anything new or particularly invasive in terms of protecting privacy. “However, it is best to be aware of the latest changes as to what you must submit in relation to an immigration application. Our office is able to assist you if you have any questions in this regard,” said Banerjee.
Law Offices of Annie Banerjee
131 Brooks Street, Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139