Countries with High Rate of Visa Overstays to be Targeted

The Trump Administration has released a memorandum that is ostensibly designed to combat “the large numbers of aliens who overstay their period of lawful admission… .” The memo focuses primarily on those who overstay B-1/B-2 business / visitor status and those who overstay following admission under the visa waiver program (VWP).

Focus on Countries with B-1/B-2 Overstay Rate Exceeding 10%

The memo targets foreign nationals from countries with B-1/B-2 overstay rates that exceeded 10 percent during fiscal year 2018 (FY18). The memo calls for immigration officials to determine the contributing causes for the overstay rates and recommend options for addressing such issues.

Possible recommendations may include “suspending or limiting entry of nationals of those countries who hold B-1 or B-2 visas; targeted suspension of visa issuance for certain nationals; limits to duration of admission, to be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security; and additional documentary requirements.”

It should be noted that, as detailed in the FY18 overstay report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), most countries have an overstay rate well-below 10 percent; and, the countries that exceed the 10 percent threshold tend to be those with relatively few B-1/B-2 visitors to the United States. For instance, the total overstay rate for B-1/B-2 visitors from Afghanistan was 12.92 percent, and for Liberia, it was 13.64 percent. But this was based on a total number of visitors during FY18 of only 1,339 and 3,372, respectively.

Low Overstay Rate for Visitors from VWP Countries

The memo also directs immigration officials to provide recommendations on ways to combat overstays for those from VWP countries. Per the FY18 report, however, the overstay rate from all VWP countries is below two percent, so it is not clear why this appears to be an issue in the memo.

Possibility of Admission Bonds

The memo further directs immigration officials to “develop measures required for imposing admission bonds as a means for improving compliance with the terms and conditions of nonimmigrant visas.”


As with nearly all immigration policies that have come out of the Trump Administration, this memo seeks to highlight a perceived problem, and examine methods of increased enforcement. It is unfortunate that the Administration does not instead direct some of its energy toward means of improving the immigration system for the millions of foreign nationals who have contributed so much to the benefit of the United States.


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