Visitors may be authorized to bring mobile phones, personal digital assistants, tablets, laptop computers, and other electronic devices, depending on the facility's restrictions. Except while attending naturalization or citizenship ceremonies, no one is permitted to photograph or record in a USCIS office. Violators will be subject to arrest and prosecution.
However, since most offices do not have warrantless entry provisions, anyone who enters without authorization may be denied admission to future appointments or required to leave their electronic equipment with a staff member. Officers may also require those entering an office to sign liability waivers before searching any electronic devices carried into the building.
If you are asked to leave your phone inside the office, be sure to remove all data before leaving. You should also keep track of where you have stored your documents in case they are needed for another appointment.
Anyone who violates this policy may be denied admission to future appointments or required to leave their electronic equipment with a staff member.
Electronic devices are allowed at citizenship interviews but cannot be used during the interview process. If you attempt to bring your device into the room when you arrive for your appointment, officers will ask you to leave it in the lobby area. A representative from USCIS will contact you when your application has been scheduled for a future date.
Don't assume that just because USCIS officials indicated in Washington that they don't scan social media means they don't. Another point where this might become a problem is when they pass through customs. Frequently, customs authorities will request to inspect your laptops or cell phones. If you refuse them, this could lead to delays and more questions.
The best way to avoid any issues with customs is not to bring anything into the country on behalf of an applicant. This includes items such as books, magazines, newspapers, and laptops/tablets. If you have concerns about bringing certain items into the country, it's best to leave them at home.
USCIS does review emails sent and received by applicants while their cases are pending. However, there is no way for them to read the contents of these messages. Any information that you include in these messages should be kept private until your case is completed.
You should also be aware that if you post sensitive information such as a password to a public forum, this could end up being used by someone who would like to harm your case. Keep in mind that anyone who sees what you type online can easily copy and paste it into an email or form field.
The countrywide USCIS policy allows visitors to carry their mobile phones into the USCIS headquarters. However, once called and in the room with the USCIS "examiner," you will be asked to turn it off for the interview.
Even if you are a US citizen, federal authorities have the authority to inspect your phone at the US border. Customs officials have the legal authority to inspect passengers' personal gadgets without a warrant, whether they are tourists or citizens of the United States. The government claims this power is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks within the country. However, travelers can fight back by refusing to give customs agents access to their phones or other devices.
In 2014, a court case involving an American named Paul Murphy has brought into question the constitutionality of this practice. Mr. Murphy was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City while trying to enter the United States with two phones in his bag. He was accused of violating section 269 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that any foreign object (including computers) "intended or suitable for use in fraud" is not allowed into the country.
Mr. Murphy argued that the first amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech prohibits the government from requiring people to provide passwords to their phones. He also claimed that section 269 is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. A district court judge agreed with Mr. Murphy and ordered the phones destroyed after finding the requirement that he provide passwords to them violated his constitutional rights. However, the government appealed this decision to the court of appeals for the second circuit.