U.S. visitor overstays motivating biometric exit continue gradual decline

U.S. visitor overstays motivating biometric exit continue gradual decline

The number of suspected in-country overstays by U.S. visitors in 2017 declined to just under 607,000 from just under 629,000 in 2016, according to the Fiscal Year 2017 Entry/Exit Overstay Report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The report details the number of non-immigrant visitors to the U.S. who depart or overstay their visas after entering through an air or sea port of entry, and were expected to depart during the year. It shows more than 52.6 million admissions to the country meeting that criteria, of which 701,900 overstays, or 1.33 percent, were calculated. Nearly 100,000 were found to have exited the country, but after their approved admission period had expired. More than 110,000 of these “out-of-country overstays” were recorded in fiscal 2016.

Visitors from non-Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries were almost four times as likely as those from VWP countries to overstay their admission periods, 0.51 percent to 1.91 percent, while 4.15 percent of those on student visas stayed beyond their expected departure date. Overstayed departures from Canada and Mexico represented 1.01 percent and 1.63 percent of the total, respectively, but those figures do not account for those passing through land border crossings.

The DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced earlier this year that it is auditing the reliability of overstay data.

From 2013 through 2015, DHS reviewed roughly 2.7 million overstay leads, suggesting that the average number of overstays per year has already fallen significantly.

Visa overstays are the main motivation for the biometric exit program, which continues to be implemented at more airports, despite controversy about its effectiveness and necessity.

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