There has been a lot of publicity about illegal immigration in recent years. However, a report looked at visa overstays and found thousands of people who entered the country legally are staying too long.
The visa overstays issue was tackled in a recent Fox News report. It said it took the U.S. government two decades to update its figure on visa overstays.
The Homeland Security Department reported on how 527,127 people who were meant to leave the country in 2015 overstayed. The statistics only took into account people who entered the United States by plane or ship, not overland.
The Fox report said during the same time US Border Patrol arrested 337,117 people who were illegally crossing into the United States, almost all of them across the Mexican border.
Unlike undocumented immigrants, people who overstay their visas seldom get caught. Immigration agents launched investigations into just 10,000 of these cases.
The Fox report said as many as 40 percent of people in the United States on visas, illegally overstayed their departure date. It’s a percentage that may increase as India and China replace Mexico as the main countries of origin of immigrants.
The Department of Homeland Security stated Canada is the leading nation for visa overstays followed by Mexico, Germany, Italy and Brazil.
A variety of different temporary visas can be used to stay in the United States. For instance, a B-2 visa may be used for tourism, medical treatment or to attend a special event.
Some members of Congress were reported to be stunned by the scale of the visa overstay issue.
Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, accused the Obama administration of losing sight of the problem. He said 12,500 overstays were deported in 2009, but just 6,800 in 2012 and the figure fell to 2,500 in 2015 — fewer than one out of every 2,000.
If you are found to be overstaying your visa, it can have serious consequences. Visa overstays may be barred from returning to the United States for as long as 10 years or face other consequences.
For all of your questions about visas and some of the inherent issues, call our Austin immigration attorneys at (512) 474-4445.