Need to prove residency? There’s an app for that
Last week, President Obama took action to allow 4 to 5 million undocumented childhood arrivals or parents of U.S. citizens who have been in the states for five years to apply for a temporary, three-year legal status. But that application process comes with some challenges, including fees and having to prove continuous, five-year residency. For residents who are, by definition, “undocumented,” tracing documents back five, ten, fifteen years may not be easy.
Tech site Nextgov reported that undocumented residents have been using common applications — like Facebook or Foursquare — to prove their geographic location over time. Optional features in apps like Facebook use global positioning to add a location to a post. Some apps encourage users to “check-in” to attractions, fast-food joints or restaurants. Apps with these features — from Tinder to Yelp — are generally free. What’s more, they are often an acceptable form of proof for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
An estimated 300,000 people came into the U.S. with their parents as children and are newly eligible to apply for temporary legal status under the president's plan. Those are the childhood arrivals who were ineligible due to age limits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Internet presence became a more common way to provide documentation of residency when more childhood arrivals applied for legal status under DACA in their late teens and early twenties. Last year, for example, Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel told the story of 25-year-old Jose Muñoz, who used records of communications and downloads through his XBox live account to prove that after graduating high school, he stayed in the U.S. Muñoz’s DACA application was approved, opening the door for him to get a driver’s license, work legally at a factory and work towards a college education for the first time — and all because of video games.