740,000 Foreign Visitors Stayed Illegally in Fiscal Year 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its FY 2016 overstay report revealing that 739,478 foreigners who were admitted for temporary stays and were required to depart during the year failed to do so. This was the second overstay report, and it provided more data than the 2015 report although it still does not include overstay data related to travelers arriving by land from Canada or Mexico. The number of overstayers represented about 1.5 percent of all foreign travelers.

The report divides the travelers into several categories:

Category Due to Leave Non-Departure Rate
– Visa waiver countries 21.6 million 0.60%
– Other tourist or business 13.8 million 1.90%
– Canada & Mexico by air 12.1 million 1.30%
– Long-term (e.g. students) 1.5 million 2.80%
– Others 1.4 million 2.10%


These data indicate that the short-term visitors from mostly Western European countries who benefit from being able to enter without visas for tourism or business represent the fewest overstays as well as the greatest number of visitors. On the other hand, the students and others who come for longer stays represent a greater overstay problem. They require a visa regardless of the country. The data in the report identify visitors from several Third World countries as sources of the higher rate of visa violation. Most of the high overstay rates below are for travelers entering with short-term tourism or business visas (B-1/B-2). Omitted are some countries with high overstay rates but with fewer than 1,000 persons who overstayed.

CountryCategoryOverstaysNon-Departure Rate
- BangladeshB-1/B-21,0823.60%
- BarbadosB-1/B-21,6952.70%
- BrazilStudents2,8813.10%
- Burkina F.B-1/B-21,17325.50%
- China18,0752.10%
- ColombiaB-1/B-219,4662.10%
- ColombiaStudents1,2073.10%
- Dominican R.B-1/B-29,6532.70%
- Dominican R.Other visa1,14012.10%
- EgyptB-1/B-21,9162.10%
- El SalvadorB-1/B-25,0792.60%
- GeorgiaB-1/B-21,05613.90%
- GhanaB-1/B-21,0674.50%
- GuatemalaB-1/B-25,8042.20%
- GuyanaB-1/B-21,9248.50%
- HaitiB-1/B-25.6693.90%
- IndiaStudents4,5753.10%
- IraqB-1/B-21,04010.80%
- JamaicaB-1/B-29,6213.30%
- JamaicaOther visa2,7286.70%
- JordanB-1/B-22,5286.00%
- KoreaStudents5,1112.10%
- LebanonB-1/B-21,0282.40%
- NicaraguaB-1/B-21,4442.00%
- NigeriaB-1/B-212,0436.00%
- NigeriaStudents2,09422.70%
- PakistanB-1/B-22,6412.80%
- PhilippinesOther visa6,52324.60%
- ThailandB-1/B-22,1222.30%
- ThailandStudents1,3584.70%
- TurkeyStudents1,2482.50%
- UkraineB-1/B-22,9503.30%
- UkraineStudents1,20312.90%
- VenezuelaB-1/B-223,8214.20%
- VietnamB-1/B-23,0823.40%
- VietnamStudents1,8608.20%
The overstay rates for students and other longer program visitors from Brazil and China also merit close scrutiny. Both countries account for large numbers of overstayers (2,881 and 18,075 respectively). The Obama administration specifically called for expanding the issuance of visas in those two countries and the consular officers may thereby have been pressured to lower their vigilance against the entry of intending visa violators.This DHS report is useful in identifying weaknesses in the visa screening process and the visa waiver program. Most of the tourists from the 38 visa waiver countries have low overstay rates. The only ones with higher than a 1.0% rate were Austria (1.3%), Chile (1.5%), Czech Repub. (1.1%), Greece (1.7%), Hungary (2.2%), Italy (1.2%), Latvia (1.8%), Lithuania (2.0%), Portugal (2.4%), San Marino (2.0%), Slovakia (1.9%), and Spain (1.5%). These countries collectively accounted for about 50,000 overstayers and should all be considered for elimination from the visa waiver program – especially those with rates over 2.0%.


Jack Martin: Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).