Q&A of the Day – Illegal Immigration – VISA overstays vs border crossings - Part 2
Bottom Line: Under the stricter border policies of the Trump administration, we’d begun to see more illegal immigrants in the US through VISA overstays as opposed to illegal border crossings. That of course has gone by the wayside as records are being set in the first two months of the Biden administration for attempted illegal crossings and amnesty seekers as President Biden has taken the laxest approach to US border policy on record. The question today was regarding why so many families are found to be paying smugglers thousands of dollars to enter the US as opposed to simply flying into the US? So, about that.
The first, most important dynamic is where you’re from. Only 39 countries are part of what’s called the VISA Wavier Program. These are countries with which it’s citizens may fly into the US without an approved VISA. Notably, Canada and Chile are the only countries in North, Central or South America which have these exceptions. Therefore, the migrants who’ve been flooding our southern border including those who are trying use smugglers to gain access, wouldn’t simply be able to hop on a plane to “go missing” within the US. Regarding those who would seek Visas to visit, it’s no sure thing.
The VISA process for visitors is called the B-2 VISA. An application for the VISA must be made to the US State Department and approved prior to the issuance to be cleared for travel to the US. There is scrutiny regarding the specific reason(s) cited for the VISA requests including where they’ll stay, where they intend to go, etc. It’s a real process that isn’t guaranteed to be successful and the process requires upfront costs to attempt. Then there’s the other consideration for those who’d attempt to obtain a VISA specifically for the purpose of illegal immigration – there's a record of them with the federal government. Those realities are generally enough to discourage illegal immigration though the B-2 VISA process. The most common VISA which is overstayed are those for education and professional purposes (B-1 VISAs).
Simply put, it’s not as easy as hoping on a plane and getting lost in the US for those whose pure purpose is to permanently gain illegal entry circumventing the legal US immigration process. That’s why the cartels seemingly maintain a steady demand for smuggling.
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