Out of the 66,416 Guyanese who were expected to depart the United States last year after visiting the country on a visitor’s visa, over 3,000 of them remained in the country, according to the United States Homeland Security’s ‘Fiscal Year 2018 Entry/Exit Overstay Report’.

The Overstay Report provides data on expected departures and overstays by country, for foreign travelers to the United States who entered as nonimmigrants through an air or sea port of entry (POE) and who were expected to depart in 2018 (October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018).     

To obtain the figures, officials examine the number of entries, by country, for foreign travelers who arrived as nonimmigrants as of October 1, 2018.
The report stated that an overstay is a nonimmigrant who was lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorised period, but remained in the United States beyond his or her authorised period of admission.  The authorised admission period can be a fixed period, or for the duration of a certain activity, such as the period during which a student is pursuing a full course of study or any authorised technical/practical training.

The Department of Homeland Security identifies two types of overstays: individuals for whom no departure has been recorded (Suspected In-Country Overstays), and individuals whose departure was recorded after their authorised period of admission expired (Out-of-Country Overstays).

The 3,220 Guyanese who overstayed, which represents 4.6% of those who were expected to leave, is almost one thousand more than those who overstayed in 2017 (that year, it was recorded that 2,262 of the 68,760 that were slated to leave did not).

Last year’s figure is also higher than 2016’s, which saw 1,924 out of 54,471 persons overstaying, as well as 2015’s, when only 983 out of the 41,747 that were expected to exit the country were documented as having overstayed their time.

The report said that Homeland Security has engaged in a concerted campaign to end visa overstay abuse and noted that for the second year in a row, visa overstay rates have declined.

According to the report, there were some 54,706,966 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea, with expected departures occurring in 2018, which represents the majority of air and sea annual nonimmigrant admissions.  Of this number, it was calculated that there was a total overstay rate of 1.22 percent, or 666,582 overstay events.  In other words, 98.78 percent of the in-scope nonimmigrant entries departed the United States on time and in accordance with the terms of their admission, the report found.

Overall, the report said the total 2018 overstay rates are lower than those presented in the previous year’s report.

While more Guyanese overstayed their time in the US last year, more of them were denied visas for the same year. Data from the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website revealed that from a high in 2016, when 51,202 ‘B’ class visitor visas were granted to Guyanese, last year only 4,923 ‘B’ visas were granted, reflecting a major decline of over 20,000 as compared to 2017, when 25,338 visas were approved.

October 1 to September 30 is the accounting period of the US Federal Government’s fiscal year. The figures, therefore, reflect visas issued from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018.

According to the data, the number of visas issued by the US Embassy’s Consular Office in Guyana was at an all-time low since 2010 and stood at 4,923 visitors’ visas issued for the 2018 fiscal period.

A breakdown of “Non-immigrant Visas Issued by Issuing Office (Including Border Crossing Cards)” for Guyana since 2009, shows that 2010 saw the lowest number of visas issued— some 4,242—and 2016 the highest, at 51,202.