visa overstays

A large number of visitors or international students from India overstay their visas, according to new Department of Homeland Security data. (123RF stock photo)

One out of every 100 visitors from India, and almost two out of every 100 international students from India overstayed their U.S. visa during the 2017 fiscal year, according to a report issued Aug. 9 by the Department of Homeland Security.

The report excluded data from Canada and Mexico. The number of over-stayers from South Asia – percentagewise – was significantly lower than visitors and students from African countries: though fewer people from that continent were admitted to the U.S., once here, 20 to 60 percent overstayed.

India and China had the largest numbers of visitors to the U.S. during the last fiscal year: India had more than one million total, while more than 4.5 million Chinese residents visited or graduated in the U.S.

Challenging the national narrative, few visitors and students were admitted from Central and South America, and numbers of over-stayers were low: about 3 to 5 percent.

According to DHS statistics, 1,078,809 visitors from India arrived in the U.S. last year on B1 or B2 visitors’ visas. Of those, 1,708 stayed for a while after their visa expired, but eventually left the U.S.

An estimated 12,498 visitors overstayed and are believed to still reside in the U.S., in undocumented status. India is the fastest-growing home country for undocumented U.S. residents: an estimated 500,000 – one out of every six – Indian nationals currently reside in the U.S. without requisite immigration papers, according to earlier DHS data, and the Migration Policy Institute.

Approximately 127,435 students from India graduated and finished their optional practical training, and were expected to return to the home country. Of those, 1,567 stayed for a while but eventually left, while 2,833 remained in the country, accruing unlawful presence, about 3.5 percent.

Numbers are fairly consistent with previous years, according to a survey by India-West of previous fiscal year overstay reports.

Foreign students from Nepal, by contrast, had a much greater tendency to overstay their visas. 3,556 Nepali students were expected to graduate or conclude their OPT and return to the home country. 78 remained for a while, but eventually left, while 712 students are still believed to be in the country – 22 percent – with undocumented status.

About 7,720 international students from Pakistan were expected to return to their home country in fiscal year 2017: 160 stayed for a while but eventually left, while 349 – more than 6.5 percent – are still believed to be in the U.S., accruing unlawful presence. Almost 97,000 people from Pakistan visited the U.S. in FY 2017: 2,294 – more than 2 percent – overstayed their visas, and approximately 2,070 have remained in the country.

Very few people from Nepal or Bhutan arrived on visitors’ visas in 2017. More than 20,000 Sri Lankans visited that year, and 400 – less than two percent – remained, accruing unlawful presence.

DHS identifies individuals as possible overstays if there are no records of a departure or change in status prior to the end of their authorized admission period; such persons are identified as “in country overstays” while those who leave some time after their visa expires are termed “out of country” overstays.

Those who do overstay but eventually leave face a penalty of not being able to return to the U.S., for varying periods of time ranging from three to 10 years. Those who remain in the country and do not leave face possible detention and deportation proceedings.

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