An estimated 29,723 Nigerian immigrants living in the United States overstayed their U.S. non-immigrant tourism/business (B1/B2) visas between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018, the US Department of Homeland Security has said.
The figure represents 15.18% of the total 195,785 expected departures. Nigeria’s high overstay rate might not be unconnected to the announcement this week by the U.S. embassy in Nigeria that the visa interview waiver for those renewing visas in the country has been indefinitely suspended.
Before the suspension, Nigerian holders of US visa types B1/B2, F, H, and L could renew their visas online by processing it through DHL using one of several dropbox locations across the country without attending physical interviews.
In its new report, titled: “The fiscal Year 2018 Entry/Exit Overstay Report” it said these immigrants, who entered the United States legally, refused to leave the country after their visas expired.
The report also shows the numbers and rate of expected departures of foreigners, who arrived in the United States as non-immigrants through the air or sea port of entry (POE).
According to the report, 195,785 Nigerians that were given visas into the US were expected to leave ”within the above window.”
Of this number, Nigeria had 15.18 per cent rate of overstay and a Suspected ‘In-Country Overstay’ rate of 14.81 per cent.
The report also showed that Nigeria has no departure record for 29,004 immigrants; while only 719 travellers left the country after their visas expired.
Djibouti, a small Africa country, has the highest rate of visa overstay immigrants at 180; with 403 expected departures. The numbers translate to 44.67 per cent and a Suspected In-Country Overstay rate of 43.92 per cent.
The Trump angle
The deportation of illegal immigrants and the consistent demand for building an all concrete wall along the Mexican/U.S. border has been one of President Donald Trump’s exertions.
”We will triple the number of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.”
The report reveals that the ICE deported 256,000 illegal immigrants, under the President Trump administration, but this was lower than the 2012 peak of 410,000 under the Obama administration.
President Trump, on April 11, ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to provide solutions to solve the surge of illegal immigrant overstay, The Washington Post reported.
According to the report, Mr Trump said ‘attention’ would be given to countries that overstay abuse their business and tourist visas above 10 per cent, on the Department of Homeland Security’s 2018 report.
President Trump added that sanctions to curb the menace of illegal overstay could include suspending or limiting visas for those countries who hold travel and business visas.
Also, limits to the duration of admission will be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security; and additional documentary requirements.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria announced new visa application procedures for Nigerian citizens ostensibly as a move to tackle the issue of visa overstay in the U.S.
The Republican president’s tough stance on immigration has led to a panicky exodus of immigrants from the North American country. His threat to review the Temporary Protected Status of thousands of foreign nationals in 2017 led to an upsurge of immigrants heading to neighbouring Canada.
Between June 2017 and May 2018, Canadian authorities intercepted more than 7,600 Nigerian asylum seekers, with 81% of them having valid U.S. non-immigrant visas in their possession.
The trend of illegal border-crossers from Nigeria worried the Canadian government so much that two officials were sent to Lagos in 2018 to work directly with their counterparts in the U.S. visa office to collaborate on how to lower the number of migrants who eventually end up making asylum claims in Canada.