Federal officials are closing a little-known loophole in immigration law which allows millions of foreigners to dodge penalties for overstaying their student or seasonal-work visas.
The prior 1997 rules did not start counting the length of a person’s overstay until a federal enforcement agency first formally recognized that the person had not gone home on time.
The new rules clearly say the overstay clock will start when a foreign student’s course is complete, or when a foreign employee’s seasonal work-permit expires.
The new policy is important because it shows foreigners the penalty they will get for breaking the overstay rules — and it provides a clear mechanism for immigration officials to prove the penalty is proper.
Under current law, once the overstay count reaches 180 days, the overstaying person is punished by getting locked out of the United States for the subsequent three years or ten years, or permanently. The penalties are written into federal law, making them easy to impose, easy to enforce and very difficult to avoid — and very painful for people who want to keep ties to business or family in the United States.
The new counting rule comes as immigration agencies test improved face-recognition technology to register the arrival and departure of visitors. That technology will also help highlight data showing when visitors are overstaying their visas.
A statement from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said:
“USCIS is dedicated to our mission of ensuring the integrity of the immigration system. F [student], J [summer workers], and M [vocational-school student] nonimmigrants are admitted to the United States for a specific purpose, and when that purpose has ended, we expect them to depart, or to obtain another, lawful immigration status,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “The message is clear: These nonimmigrants cannot overstay their periods of admission or violate the terms of admission and stay illegally in the U.S. anymore.”
The new rule, which begins in August, is just one of many ways in which President Donald Trump’s deputies are closing loopholes which have been cut in the nation’s immigration laws since the 1980s.
Those loopholes have been created by Congress, the courts, regulations, and bureaucrats, often as new “human rights,” and usually without recognition by the media or by voters that their overall migration laws are being changed. The resulting complexity of immigration law baffles voters, but can easily be exploited by companies and immigration lawyers.
Collectively, these loopholes have helped create a domestic population of roughly 11 million illegals, roughly half of who are overstays. Roughy 544,000 foreigners were overstaying their visas in January 2016, according to a 2017 agency report. Many of these overstays later departed, but some remain working as illegals, and some got an “Adjustment of Status” to be legal immigrants.
The exceptions to immigration laws also permit at least 330,000 foreign “students” to work full-time in the United States, provide work-permits to a resident population of more than 1.5 million foreign guest-workers.
Other loopholes also leave the United States with a population of several hundred thousand migrants who are very likely to lose their asylum cases, roughly 1 million people who have been ordered out of the country, including many people convicted in the United States of violent crimes. Other loopholes also allow employers to hire illegals via subcontractors, or excuse them if they ignore obvious gaps in job-applicants’ cover story, and allow Democrats to create so-called “sanctuary city” which hinder deportation efforts.
In recent weeks, Trump’s deputies have worked to close several other loopholes, include the Flores loophole used by migrants trying to win a “catch and release” document, the Supreme Court’s Zadvydas loophole which allows criminal migrants to stay if their home-country won’t take them back, the cheap-labor loophole in the H-1B program, the outsourcing loophole in the H-1B program, the off-site loophole in the “Optional Practical Training” program, the sub-contractor loophole in corporate hiring, and the various gang-and-violence loopholes created by asylum judges.
Cheap-labor legislators in Congress, progressive judges, and self-serving business groups try to create new loopholes and defend existing loopholes in the nation’s immigration law. They push for loopholes even though the nation accepts 1 million new legal immigrants per year, and despite many polls showing the public prefers policies which allow Americans to get good jobs before companies are allowed to import more foreign workers.
For example, immigration lawyers want to knock down the new overstay clock rule: