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In 2017, More Than 600,000 Foreigners to the U.S. Overstayed Their Visas

While United States President Donald Trump continues to beg Congress for funding of his border wall campaign promise, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that more than 600,000 individuals who legally entered the country in 2017 overstayed their visas, thereby making them undocumented immigrants.

The DHS report is not surprising. The reality of immigration in the U.S. is that most undocumented immigrants don’t cross the southern border illegally. Instead, they arrive on flights, ships, and ground transportation with their passports and visas. They’re admitted into the country by immigration agents, clear customs, and their arrival record is duly entered into a tracking database, which is how the DHS reports the figure.

Most foreigners who overstay their visas are admitted as tourists, but quite a few are here on business and temporary work visas. Some of these individuals may not even be in the U.S. Both northern and southern borders are porous in the sense that it’s easier to avoid checkpoints on the way out of the country, and a similar situation applies to some foreigners who board vessels leaving U.S. ports.

Trump has previously addressed the issue of foreigners overstaying their visas by means of an executive order directing Congress to implement a better system to track foreign arrivals and departures. Such a system would ostensibly involve biometrics such as digital fingerprinting and face recognition, which might also burden the visa waiver program for tourists from Europe and other allied nations. This is going to be a contentious item in Congress, particularly since some major American tourism destinations have complained that the Trump administration is impacting their business. Another issue is that Trump is so focused on the border wall that he may shut down the government in the coming months if funding isn’t approved, which would effectively put the arrival and departure tracking system on ice.

In the big picture of immigration, foreigners overstaying their visas aren’t a major burden. More than 50 million foreign visitors are admitted to the U.S. on an annual basis, and less than two percent stay longer than the term of their visas. Quite a few end up leaving the country within 180 days of their visa expiration date to avoid a bar on future reentry.

Foreign visitors in the U.S. shouldn’t push their luck regarding their visas. Extensions are available in some cases, particularly if an adjustment of status is on the horizon. A Mexican investor who is here on a business visa and needs a few more days to close a deal should seek an extension instead of overstaying, and the same goes if he or she becomes romantically involved with an American citizen whom he or she would like to marry. In many cases, extensions are easier to obtain with the assistance of trusted San Diego immigration attorneys.

Whether you need general information on immigration or want to find out the requirements for obtaining an EB-5 visa, San Diego immigration lawyers from KS Visa Law are here to help. Give us a call today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

April 2024