Technology and advancements in means of communication have revolutionized how people communicate and interact with each other.
Mobile phones, social media accounts, and messaging apps are the new normal for communication between people. Similarly, the standards and norms have also been updated accordingly.
For instance, if we talk about the background checks by the immigration departments of different countries, they have also updated their system and standards for background checks of applicants.
It is evident from the recent practice of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services checking applicants’ social media profiles.
The current practices of USCIS have given rise to doubts and questions in the minds of applicants. Therefore, several applicants wonder if USCIC checks their phones and social media when conducting a background check or during an immigration interview.
In today’s article, we will talk about the most popular questions regarding what USCIS does and what it doesn’t investigate during background checks and interviews of applicants. So let’s get into it.
What Is USCIS Background Check?
Once the applicants have submitted their application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency and have received the acknowledgment, the department will call them for a biometrics appointment. It involves collecting the signatures, fingerprints, etc., from the applicants.
The next step after biometrics collection is to run the background check on the applicant’s data. The background check run by USCIS involves checking the criminal records against the applicant’s fingerprints.
Besides, the USCIS will request the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) to Name Checks and check the personal, administrative, and criminal files against the applicant’s name.
So we can define the USCIS Background Check as follows:
“ The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency runs the background check of immigration applicants to ensure that the most eligible applicants are entitled to immigration benefits in the United States.
Any applicant who might threaten the social and national security of the United States is not given the permit after running the background check on the applicants.”
What Is Legal For USCIS To Investigate During Background Check?
With many speculations about what kind of checks are run by USCIS, it is essential to know what is legal for USCIS to collect and what will be deemed illegal for the scope of background checks run by the USCIS.
So here is the information that USCIS can collect about the applicants under the prescribed laws and regulations:
Fingerprints In Criminal Database
The USCIS is authorized to collect fingerprints from the applicants during the biometrics appointment.
As mentioned earlier, the biometrics appointment is fixed after the USCIS has acknowledged the application submission.
All applicants must record their fingerprints when called by the USCIS. However, if someone is permanently disabled in a way that he can’t scan fingerprints, he will be given exemptions.
Previously, senior citizens above 75 were exempt from fingerprint scanning as it was hard to read their fingerprints. However, the regulations have changed due to advanced technology, and every applicant has to submit fingerprints.
The fingerprints collected by the USCIS are used to run the background check on the applicants for any criminal records.
When the USCIS requests the FBI to run a name check, it also includes checking the applicant’s records for any criminal offense and filing in any state of the United States.
The USCIS has the legal authority to check the work history of applicants. Therefore, the agency might request you provide the employer’s name, email address, and other contact information to check the applicants’ work history.
The administrative files and legal documents are also checked when the FBI runs the name check on the applicants. It also includes checking any credit history, bank defaulters, legal convictions, etc.
Can USCIS Check Your Phone During Background Check?
Many people wonder if USCIS checks the phone of applicants while background checks. So the answer to this question is No.
The USCIS officials won’t check applicants’ phones while running the background check. The officials don’t have access to the mobile phone during the checks.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about USCIS checking your phone during the background check.
Can USCIS Check Your Phone?
If we talk about the question of USCIS generally checking the phone, it is not a usual practice during immigration interviews or even biometrics appointments.
The reason is obvious as cell phones are not allowed to be carried during the biometrics appointment. In the case of a naturalization interview, it is advisable to keep your mobile phone outside.
If we talk about the possibility, there have been many cases when immigration officers asked the applicants for phone checking. So we can say that it is legal if USCIS checks your phone during the immigration interview.
However, if the evidence is weak and your conversation is not convincing enough, the immigration officers might decide to take this extreme measure and check your phone.
For your assistance, it is helpful to know that USCIS will not ask for a phone as a common practice.
Can USCIS Check Your Messages?
No, USCIS can not check the call records or messages on the phones of applicants. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your phone being hijacked once you have filed an application for immigration with USCIS.
Can USCIS Check Your Social Media Accounts And Content?
Yes, USCIS can check your social media accounts and the public content available on your social media accounts.
Several people have reported receiving messages and emails from social media service providers. These messages and notices said that the federal government had accessed the records of the applicants.
So the crux is that there is always the possibility that the USCIS might dig up and check your social media accounts to make sure that you haven’t violated any rules and regulations in the US.
When Might USCIS Check Social Media Accounts Of Applicants?
Does USCIS have access to your social media?
The USCIS or FBI do not have general access to your social media. However, suppose there are certain circumstances where they must go through your social media accounts.
In that case, they can ask the social media channels to provide access to your content on social media accounts.
When does USCIS investigate the background of applicants?
USCIS runs background checks on applicants who file for naturalization or green card in the US.
Whether they have applied for a marriage green card, work permit, or citizenship in the United States, the agency will run background checks to make sure that most eligible applicants can get immigration benefits in the country.
Does USCIS check the Google Search History?
The USCIS does not check or access any citizen or applicant’s Google and Social Media search history.
However, the US federal government has access and permission to collect social and search data of immigrants and know what they are doing online.
Does USCIS check your Whatsapp messages?
USCIS can check your messages on different social media accounts, including Whatsapp. However, it is not a general practice, and the agency doesn’t adopt it for every visa or green card application.
Does USCIS do home visits?
Yes, USCIS might visit your home if you have applied for marriage immigration or a green card. The officers might visit your home to see whether the couple is living together like spouses.
Can USCIS blacklist you?
No, there is nothing such as a blacklist. Violations of the Immigration & Nationality Act can result in inadmissibility or deprivation to the United States. So, technically, it is a blaclisting, but the formal term used by the USCIS is not blacklisting.
What happens if you lie to USCIS?
It can severely affect your application if you lie to the USCIS while providing them with any information. It can include permanent inadmissibility, deportability, or deprivation of US citizenship.