us visa overstaying
Overstaying your visa just got a whole lot more serious... Source: EQRoy/Shutterstock

Have you overstayed your visa once or twice? You might struggle to do so in the future as the US is set to tighten visa rules to minimise those who overstay.

The Trump administration issued the draft policy on Friday to enforce stricter rules for students who remain in the country illegally.

The policy will change how “unlawful presence” is calculated. Currently, international students and exchange visitors on F, J or M visas are only declared to be in the US illegally when they are found to be in violation by the Department of Homeland Security and issued a formal notice of the findings.

So, the “unlawful presence” only begins “the day after USCIS [US Citizenship and Immigration Services] formally [finds] a non-immigrant status violation.”

Now, however, “the day after” the student is no longer enrolled on their course they will be unlawfully in the US and if they violate this law they could be unable to enter the country in the future.

The new policy states the unlawful presence days begin “the day after the F, J, or M non-immigrant no longer pursues the course of study or the authorized activity or the day after he or she engages in an unauthorized activity.”

Anyone who accrues over 180 days of unlawful presence faces being banned from entering the US for a minimum of three years – but this can stretch up to a 10-year ban.

The change will undoubtedly result in an increase of students violating the terms of their visas as more days will be counted in the “unlawful presence” period.

Overstayers will not be eligible to apply for a new visa.

“The message is clear. These non-immigrants cannot overstay their periods of admission or violate the terms of admission and stay illegally in the US anymore,” USCIS Director Frank Cissna said in a statement, reported by Yahoo.

But this is not a small-scale problem. Yahoo reported that official data for the fiscal year 2016 from the Department of Homeland Security showed a total of 98,970 Indian, and 360,334 Chinese students alone were expected to depart the US, however, a number of them did not.

The data showed 4,575 Indian and 18,075 Chinese students overstayed their visas, remaining in the US after their due leave date.

The policy is currently open for comments from the public until June 11, 2018 and is set to come into effect on Aug 9, 2018.

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