Immigrant organizations in California and around the country are concerned about a presidential memorandum issued on April 22 that orders the Secretary of State to open talks with countries that have visa overstay rates of 10% or more. The vast majority of the countries affected are African. The organizations question the validity of the memorandum because it relies on data from Department of Homeland Security entry and exit reports to calculate overstay rates.
Immigrant advocacy groups object to using DHS overstay reports to justify visa restrictions for several reasons. Chief among them is that the reports do not provide an accurate reflection of overstays because many departures are unconfirmed by the DHS. Departures may not be reflected in the numbers when individuals do not fly out of the United States, are not included in airline passenger manifests, or switch from one type of visa to another while in the country.
Another criticism of the reports is that they do not differentiate between individuals who overstay their visas by a few days and those who spend years in the country illegally. Immigration groups also believe the Trump administration is using visa overstays to target African immigrants because the rates have remained fairly consistent in recent years. They say that this argument is supported by the administration’s tendency to focus on negative immigration trends while ignoring positive developments.
The road to permanent residency or naturalization can be long and difficult for those seeking a new start in America. Attorneys experienced in immigration law could help those hoping to obtain a work, student, or family-based visa to avoid common pitfalls such as not submitting their paperwork on time or failing to include supporting documents. Attorneys could also argue on behalf of immigrants who are facing deportation or help those who face persecution at home to file asylum petitions.
Source: Forbes, “Questionable DHS Visa Overstay Reports Used For Immigration Crackdown”, Stuart Anderson, May 1, 2019