Immigration experts say that most Indians that are in the US illegally are visa overstays.
On Monday, the White House moved toward restricting entry of visitors to the US from countries with highest visa overstays. A presidential memorandum was issued to address a high number of non-immigrant visa recipients, who stay back in the country illegally after their authorized time to stay is over. Twenty countries have a visa overstay rate of more than 10 percent and some with more than 20 percent, according to the White House website.
As per the Department of Homeland Security, the countries with more that 10 percent overstay in fiscal year 2018 included Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Chad, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea and Georgia. While India did not figure in the list, according to immigration experts, it might affect some Indians.
Indians are among the highest number of non-immigrant visa recipients.
The move may crack down not just on B-1/B-2 visas but also F1 or student visas.
It is no secret that US for long has been a favored destination for Indian students. In the year, 2017-18, about half of student visa holders were Chinese (377,070) and Indians (211,703).
So, can it potentially also affect Indians in some ways?
“I think it will,” Kansas City-based immigration attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford says. “A vast number of [undocumented] Indians tend to be overstays as opposed to those who enter without permission. I do think that there are a growing number of those who are entering without permission, but for now a vast majority are visa overstays. Take for example the fake ICE college matter, most were Indians.”
The Farmington University scam, earlier this year, led to arrests of more than 150 Indian students who enrolled themselves in a fake university set up by the DHS. According to the US government, these students knowingly enrolled in sham institutions to exploit their visa benefits. A similar case had surfaced in New Jersey just a few years back.
Immigration experts say that Indians who may be in the US illegally are more likely visa overstays. Sharma-Crawford adds, “Indians tend to get a visitor visa and then stay, or be a student and then stay as opposed to flying to Mexico/Canada and then try to sneak in.”
The new memorandum also brings to the fore the fact that illegal stays in the US may not be just people sneaking in from the Southern border, as the administration has been claiming so far. Immigration experts say that the new move may limit the number of visas given each year or may even reduce the time allowed for people to stay on the visas.
The proposal of admission bonds, though never practiced before, can mean that visitors may have to make a refundable deposit for entering the US. All in all, Trump’s move does suggest that there may be changes in the B-1/B-2 visas, a large recipient of which remain Indians.