Analysis: Students, African nationals most frequent overstayers
Around 700,000 people overstayed their temporary visas in fiscal year 2017, according to a recently released estimate from the Department of Homeland Security.
Six hundred thousand of these individuals are suspected to have remained in the country, according to DHS, while the other 100,000 or so simply departed after their visas expired. The 700,000 count represents a tiny fraction of the nearly 53 million people admitted to the United States in FY17.
However, it is 300,000 more people than the number apprehended trying to illegally cross the southwestern border for the same year, indicating that visa overstays represent a more serious source of illegal immigration than border crossers.
Visa overstays have been a priority of DHS under Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who introduced new measures regulating a key visa program last year. Nielsen argued at the time that tightened security for temporary visa holders was a vital tool for combatting terrorism.
"The United States faces an adaptive and agile enemy, as terrorists continue to explore ways to reach our country and to direct, enable, and inspire attacks against us. It's critically important we stay ahead of these threats by improving our security posture," she said.