Presidential Memo on Visa Overstay: B-1 & B-2 Visitor Visas

The White House has released a memorandum outlining President Trump’s strategy to curtail the overstay rate for all nonimmigrant visas, with particular focus on B-1 and B-2 nonimmigrant visas. According to recent Department of Homeland Security DHS statistics, B-1 and B-2 visa overstay rates grew beyond 10 percent. President Trump has ordered the DHS to engage with the governments of countries with larger rates of overstay in the United States.

Potential Changes

President Trump’s memo suggests “suspending or limiting entry of nationals of those countries who hold B-1 or B-2 visas; targeted suspension of visa issuance for certain nationals; limits to duration of admission, to be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security; and additional documentary requirements.” As such, those nationals of countries with higher rates of overstay could be barred from entering the United States for a short stay effective immediately. The memo does not, however, clarify the types and quantity of “additional documentary requirements,” nor does the memo explain how the country suspensions would be determined by DHS officials. For countries that have only a small quantity of nationals under the B-1 and B-2 visas each year, a system based on “overstay rate” would come as an extreme disadvantage. For example, the country Chad, which had over a 30% overstay rate, had only 536 nonimmigrants come into the United States for business or pleasure purposes. Therefore, there were only a total of 165 suspected overstays during fiscal year 2018.

Similarities to Buy American, Hire American

Like the Buy American, Hire American memorandum, this recent memo out of the Trump White House seeks to increase scrutiny over problems in the immigration system. However, the memo does not present an extensive plan to fix or improve the immigration system. While the issue of overstayed visas impacts the United States, this new Trump memo may cause a lasting negative impact on current immigration.