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Thousands of Indians are living in the US on expired visas

Quartz logo Quartz 12-09-2018 Ananya Bhattacharya

© AP

More Indians tend to overstay their US visa validity than nationals of any other country.

The highest number of visa overstays in the “other” category in 2017 came from India, according to an analysis of the department of homeland security’s latest entry/exit overstay report by Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a non-profit, which favours immigration reduction. This group mostly comprises guest workers or other employment-related visas. A few “pre-immigrant” categories such as fiancées are also included.

© Reuters

And the numbers are only growing. Overstaying Indian nationals in this segment increased 19% from 8,061 in 2016 to 9,568 a year later.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Quartz

Scores of Indian students were also staying back past their visa expiration dates. “The category with the highest overstay rate is student and exchange visitors (F, M, and J visas). This category has twice the overstay rate of most other categories,” authors Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies, and research associate Preston Huennekens, wrote. “About 40% of the student/exchange visa overstays in 2017 were from just four countries: China, Saudi Arabia, India, and South Korea.”

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DHS figures showed that 4,400 Indian students had expired visas.

Overall, the federal agency identified just over 700,000 people who overstayed their US visas in 2017, a decline of 5% from 2016.

“Even though many of those visitors who overstayed initially were found to have eventually departed or adjusted to a legal status over a period of several months, more than 420,000 of the 2017 overstays had not done so by May 01, 2018, and are believed to have remained in the country,” the CIS report said. “They may be here to work, to join family members, or for criminal or other nefarious reasons.”

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Quartz

However, experts warn that CIS’s claims are not much cause of worry.

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“Ignore CIS. They start with the presumption that the only cure for an overstay is immediate deportation. That’s not the law and never has been,” said Hassan Ahmad, a Northern Virginia-based immigration lawyer who serves on the boards of various state and local agencies and nonprofits advising on immigration policy. “They further attempt to overstate the numbers by ignoring the actual numbers of lawful admissions, and then blame DHS for understating the ‘problem’.”

Ahmad further added, “it is not surprising CIS takes such a hard-line view, since their policies are informed by white nationalist ideologies such as eugenics and population control.” CIS has been classified as an anti-immigrant hate group and has been known to hype the criminality of immigrants, among other things.

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