Trump administration making it harder to overstay U.S. student visas

Karuna SImbeck of Klasko Immigration Law Partners

Karuna SImbeck of Klasko Immigration Law Partners

You might struggle to do so in the future as the U.S. is set to tighten visa rules to minimise those who overstay.

The United States administration is planning to enforce stricter measures against students and exchange visitors who overstay their visa in the country. Those under the age of 18 do not accrue unlawful presence. Currently, global students and exchange visitors on F, J or M visas are only declared to be in the United States illegally when they are found to be in violation by the Department of Homeland Security and issued a formal notice of the findings.

The USCIS has proposed that individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be barred from admission to the country for three- to 10 years. Specifically, the current policy holds that worldwide students and exchange visitors begin "accruing unlawful presence on the day after USCIS formally found a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit or on the day after an immigration judge ordered the applicant excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed), whichever came first".

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.

For example, students on an F-1 visa, after completion of their study, are allowed to stay for a grace period of 60 days to change their student visa status to a work visa or else they should leave the US.

"The message is clear".

But this is not a small-scale problem.

The latest publicly available data (Homeland Security report for fiscal 2016) shows that 4,575 of the 98,970 students from India scheduled to leave the U.S. or change their status had violated norms and overstayed.

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