Immigration Authorities Use Social Networking Sites to Check on Fraud, Fake Marriages
Friday, October 15, 2010 at 11:27 am
Faking a marriage to get a green card? Be careful what you say on Facebook: Federal immigration authorities may use social networks to determine whether immigrants are committing fraud in the immigration process, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documents obtained by Electronic Frontier Foundation. One document, which the organization released this week, instructs agents on how social networks can be used to do “an unannounced cyber ‘site-visit’ on a [sic] petitioners and beneficiaries”:
Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know. This provides an excellent vantage point for [Fraud Detection and National Security, a department of UCIS] to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.
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 [United States Citizen and Immigration Services] about their relationship. Once a user posts online, they create a public record and timeline of their activities. In essence, using MySpace and other like sites is akin to doing an unannounced cyber “site-visit” on a [sic] petitioners and beneficiaries.
The practice is legal, as long as the user provides access to their page, but Electronic Frontier Foundation points out some concerns: The memo does not set standards for when agents can or should conduct these types of investigations, and leaves open the possibility for agents to use false names to monitor users. The organization also points out that social networking sites are not always fully accurate or up-to-date — meaning someone accused of faking a marriage could simply not have changed his or her relationship status.
Foreign-born husbands or wives of U.S. citizens can receive a green card, or permanent legal residency, unless they have crossed the border illegally or are barred for other reasons. (This excludes same-sex foreign partners, although the Uniting American Families Act would allow citizens to petition for same-sex partners.) The rate of marriage fraud is unclear, but the agency has said its primary focus is on investigating large-scale fake marriage services and acting on tips from citizens.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.