The administration of United States President Donald J. Trump has been closely monitoring countries whose nationals overstay their short-term visas in the U.S. as part of the country’s efforts to curb immigration, including Liberians.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, published Sunday, April 14, 2019, African nations with high overstay rates, such as Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could be affected by “rules designed to clamp down” on these countries.
In its 2017 report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recorded the five countries as among those, under the Non-Visa Waiver program, whose nationals have the highest populations of overstays among non-immigrants in the United States.
“An overstay is a non-immigrant, who was lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorized period but stayed in the United States beyond his or her authorized admission period,” DHS said in the report.
“Non-immigrants admitted for ‘duration of status,’ who fail to maintain their status also may be considered overstays. “Duration of status” is a term used for foreign nationals who are admitted for the duration of a specific program or activity, which may be variable, instead of a set time frame. The authorized admission period ends when the foreign national has accomplished the purpose or is no longer engaged in authorized activities pertaining to that purpose. An example is a student program that runs for four years. When the program is completed, the student must leave or go on to pursue another program of study,” the report said.
In 2017, DHS recorded 783 out of 858 Liberians as “in-country overstays.” This constituted 18.93 percent of the expected 4,136 Liberian departures from the U.S. that year.
In-country overstays from Eritrea, however, were 473 out of 2390 expected departures (19.79%); Nigeria had 19046 in-country overstays out of 185,375 expected departures (10.27 percent); Sierra Leone had 319 suspected in-country overstays, out of 2,844 expected departures; while Chad had 140 in-country overstays out of 611 total expected departures (22.91%).
Apparently, the high percentages of overstays in the afore-mentioned countries could move the U.S. warn said countries that visas would become harder to obtain if rates don’t reverse, an unidentified administration official told the Journal, describing the policy as putting those countries “on notice.”
White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley told the Journal that the administration considers it a priority “to reduce overstay rates for visas and the visa waiver program—and it’s well known that the administration is working to ensure faithful implementation of immigration welfare rules to protect American taxpayers.”