Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Almost 740000 Foreigners Overstayed US Visas Last Year

Win McNamee  Getty Images File Win McNamee Getty Images File
Sandy Vega | 23 May, 2017, 16:29

Of the more than 50 million non-immigrant admissions at USA air and sea ports of entry who were expected to depart last year, 739,478 overstayed their admission, according to DHS's "Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report". At the end of FY2015, officials first estimated about 482,781 individuals (1.07 percent) stayed in the country; by cross-referencing information from multiple government agencies, DHS estimated in June of a year ago that the number was actually 355,338 individuals (0.79 percent). The report Monday gives government officials and immigration researchers a second year of data, possibly providing insights into countries or visa categories that may warrant closer scrutiny from immigration officials.

There were 739,478 overstays from October 2015 through September 2016 among visitors who arrive by plane or ship - more than the population of Alaska.

DHS said in a statement following release of the report that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will ramp up enforcement of visa overstays. The highest rates of overstays were from African countries.

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Among the overstayed are 2,040 Indians who departed the United States only after the expiry of their visas. But not all of those are here to stay. Of that number, 628,799 were suspected of remaining in the US through fiscal year 2016. By January, the number was down to 544,000.

As per available records, 1,561 Indian students and exchange visitors left the country after their visas expired, while 3,014 of them have overstayed in the country, the report said.

The Department of Homeland Security released its first report on visa overstays in January 2016, and found that in 2015, 347,632 foreigners who arrived in the US through the Visa Waiver Program, B-1 business visas, or B-2 tourism visas remained in the United States after their visa expired, and that number increased by 13 percent in 2016. That number rose to 392,276 in 2016, representing a 13 percent increase. Officials expect to receive up to $1 billion in visa-related fees over the next decade to build an exit-tracking system at the nation's airports and seaports. A DHS inspector general report from earlier in May found that the agency has a backlog of about 1.2 million expired visa cases, largely due to an antiquated information technology system that forces Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to query 27 different databases for information on visa holders. Several Democratic and Republican administrations have tried to improve that system to use "biometric" information, such as fingerprints and iris scans. Homeland Security said it will make additional improvements in future reports, including more data on people who cross by land.

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