US Targets Nations for Visa Overstays

Last month the President released a memo calling the number of unauthorized individuals in the United States on expired visas, “unacceptably high.” Citing a recent Homeland Security report, President Trump issued a directive to federal agencies to consider actions against countries with high visa overstay rates.

Twenty countries with overstay rates over 10 percent were identified in the administration’s order. The State Department, Homeland Security, and attorney general have four months to recommend sanctions for these nations including possible suspensions or limitations on future visas.

Questions About Overstay Calculations

Some immigration analysts believe that targeting countries based on their percentage of overstays will not adequately address the problem. For example, the African nation of Djibouti has the highest percentage of overstays, at 44.6 percent. But that only amounts to around 165 people. In fact, 13 of the 20 counties with visa overstay rates over 10 percent are smaller African nations that do not send large numbers of individuals to the United States in comparison with other countries.

Numerous other countries, including Canada, Brazil, and Mexico have significantly larger numbers of visa overstays. Yet because they send many more business and tourist travelers to the U.S. overall, their overstay percentage is lower than other, smaller countries.

Looking at the raw number of individuals with expired visas in the U.S., Brazil ranks first with more than 36,000 overstays. While Mexico had more than 43,000 overstays, their percentage in proportion to all of their visa holders overall was only 1.5 percent. Canada’s percentage is less than one percent at 88,000 overstays.

Beyond the questions about the efficacy of targeting nations based on their overstay percentages, there are questions about who is included in these numbers. For the most recent lists, the Department of Homeland Security counted only those individuals who entered the United States via airplanes or ships. Most visa holders coming from Canada and Mexico enter on land, suggesting the actual number of potential overstays is likely much greater.

Preventing Visa Overstays in the Future

In addition to Trump’s recommendation for sanctions against nations with high percentages of visa overstays, he also asked the secretaries of state and homeland security to develop ways of preventing visa holders from staying longer than permitted. Last year, close to 667,000 immigrants overstayed their visas. The average undocumented individual overstays their visa by around 15 years. Some overstayers return to their country of origin or move forward and seek asylum or apply for residency through other methods.

Penalties for Visa Overstays

In the United States, those who overstay their visa longer than 180 days can be prohibited from reentering the country for several years. While an overstay less than 180 days does not automatically prohibit future entry into the U.S., any overstay is recorded and can impact a person’s chance of reentry.

Border officials have the discretion to allow or refuse entry. Anyone facing this situation should contact a Philadelphia immigration lawyer for assistance.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Individuals Charged with Overstaying Their Visa

At the respected law firm Surin & Griffin, P.C., your Philadelphia immigration lawyer evaluates your situation and recommends the next best step to take to resolve your immigration matter quickly and effectively. Surin & Griffin immigration lawyers provide invaluable legal guidance for all immigration issues including: work visas, green cards, asylum, sponsorship, and removal.

To schedule a consultation today, call 215-925-4435 or contact a multilingual immigration attorney at Surin & Griffin, P.C. using the convenient web contact form. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationwide.