For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Report shows DHS was able to confirm departures of over 99 percent of nonimmigrant visitors scheduled to depart in Fiscal Year 2015, and that number continues to grow; DHS continues to improve the entry/exit system to better identify and track overstays
WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the Entry/Exit Overstay Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, which provides data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who were lawfully admitted into the United States for specific, temporary purposes, but overstayed their lawful admission period. This report provides an update on the Department’s significant progress in identifying overstay rates and efforts to address limitations as a result of the infrastructure of U.S. ports of entry—including airports— that was not built with immigration exit controls in mind.
All foreign nationals are vetted against multiple national security and law enforcement databases, including the Terrorist Screening Database, before they depart for the United States to ensure they do not pose a threat to public safety or national security. Additional data collection and checks occur at a point of entry prior to admission. Today’s report represents a snapshot of how many foreign nationals who legally entered the United States through air or sea ports of entry, and who were expected to depart the country between October 2014 and September 2015, stayed beyond their lawful admission period, and how many remain in the country as of this month.
DHS conducts the overstay identification process by examining arrival, departure and immigration status information, which is consolidated to generate a complete picture of an individual’s travel to the United States. The Department identifies two types of overstays – those individuals for whom no departure has been recorded (Suspected In-Country Overstay) and those individuals whose departure was recorded after their lawful admission period expired (Out-of-Country Overstay).
This report focuses on foreign nationals who entered the United States as nonimmigrant visitors for business (i.e., B1 and WB visas) or pleasure (i.e., B2 and WT visas) through an air or sea port of entry, which represents the vast majority of annual nonimmigrant admissions. In FY 2015, of the nearly 45 million nonimmigrant visitor admissions through air or sea ports of entry that were expected to depart in FY 2015, DHS determined that 527,127 individuals overstayed their admission, for a total overstay rate of 1.17 percent. In other words, 98.83 percent had left the United States on time and abided by the terms of their admission.
The report breaks the overstay rates down further to provide a better picture of those overstays that remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom CBP has no evidence of a departure or transition to another immigration status. At the end of FY 2015, the overall Suspected In-Country Overstay number was 482,781 individuals, or 1.07 percent.
Due to further continuing departures by individuals in this population, by January 4, 2016, the number of Suspected In-Country overstays for FY 2015 had dropped to 416,500, rendering the Suspected In-Country Overstay rate as 0.9 percent. In other words, as of January 4, DHS was able to confirm the departures of over 99 percent of nonimmigrant visitors scheduled to depart in FY 2015 via air and sea POEs, and that number continues to grow.
This report separates Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country overstay numbers from non-VWP country numbers. For VWP countries, the FY 2015 Suspected In-Country overstay rate is 0.65 percent of the 20,974,390 expected departures. For non-VWP countries, the FY 2015 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.60 percent of the 13,182,807 expected departures. DHS is in the process of evaluating whether and to what extent the data presented in this report will be used to make decisions on the VWP country designations.
For Canada and Mexico, the FY 2015 Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.18 percent of the 7,875,054 expected departures and 1.45 percent of the 2,896,130 expected departures respectively.
DHS anticipates that these numbers will shift over time as additional information is reported. Specifically, the overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate will continue to decline as the number of individuals who have departed or transitioned to another immigration status after their initial period of authorized admission ended grows.
The process of matching data to determine overstays has been extremely difficult, as the data collection processes for arrival and departure information are not the same. The United States did not build its border, aviation, and immigration infrastructure with exit processing in mind. Despite these significant challenges, in recent years, the Department has made substantial improvements to enhance its capability to record arrivals and departures from the United States, detect overstays, and interdict threats.
DHS has reduced the number of documents that may be used to enter the United States, which in turn strengthened DHS’s ability to quickly and accurately collect information on all admissions. CBP obtains passenger manifest data on all commercial air and sea departures from the United States, and passenger data on land departures into Canada. As a result, CBP routinely seeks to match entry and exit data to identify foreign travelers who have overstayed their period of admission to the United States.
Overall, CBP has improved the collection of data on all admissions to the United States by foreign nationals, biometric data on most foreign travelers to the United States, and processes to check data against criminal and terrorist watchlists. CBP has also made tremendous progress in accurately reporting data on overstays to better centralize the overall mission in identifying overstays. CBP will continue to roll out additional pilot programs during FY 2016 that will further improve the ability of CBP to accurately report this data.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) is the program dedicated to the enforcement of nonimmigrant visa violations. Each year, ICE analyzes records of hundreds of thousands of potential status violators from various investigative databases and DHS entry/exit registration systems. The goal is to identify, locate, prosecute when appropriate, and remove overstays consistent with DHS’s immigration enforcement priorities, which prioritize those who pose a risk to national security or public safety.
For more information, read the report here: www. dhs.gov/publication/entryexit-overstay-report.