New Report Highlights Visa Overstays
FAIR Take | July 2023
On June 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its congressionally mandated annual report on visa overstays, titled Fiscal Year 2022 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. The report highlights how visa overstays continue to be a major contributor to the country’s illegal immigration problem. Notably, the report finds that, in FY22, nearly 854,000 visitors violated the terms of their visas and overstayed in the United States. It also underscores the need for effective entry-exit border controls, which have been lacking since first required under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA).
More than raw numbers, the report shows how the visa overstay rate has increased in recent years due to overstays from countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), non-VWP countries, students, and other classes of admission. There were over 23 million nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea ports of entry with expected departures occurring in FY22. Of those, most departed in accordance with the terms of their visas. However, the rate for overstays has increased, up from 1.21 percent in FY19 to 3.67 percent in FY22.
Key points of the report include:
- In Fiscal Year 2022, there were 853,955 overstays, at a rate of 3.67 percent.
- About 98,000 visitors who entered under the Visa Waiver Program, which allows nonimmigrants from pre-approved and cooperative countries to visit the United States without a visa, overstayed in 2022.
- Spain had the largest number of overstays (from visa waiver program countries) with 28,356 overstayers and a rate of 5.6 percent.
- In the B1/B2 visa category (business travelers and tourists), Venezuela had the highest number of overstays with an overstay rate of 44.27 percent.
- For nonimmigrants who entered on a student or exchange visitor visa (F, M, or J visa), the overstay rate was 3.5 percent. More than 9,000 Chinese nonimmigrants overstayed, accounting for more than 16% of all student and exchange overstays reported.
While Congress has provided billions for our entry-exit system, it has not yet been completed due to unwillingness to implement the exit portion of the system. The growing overstay rates by those visiting, working and studying in the United States should alarm policymakers and instigate debate on how to finish this project. The report should also highlight the importance of enforcing the law and targeting overstays, especially since history has shown that such individuals can pose a threat to national security while on U.S. soil.
 DHS did not issue a report for FY21. Given that FY20 was an anomaly due to COVID-19, FAIR compared FY22 to FY19.