Overstay Rates for Nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors (F, M, J Visas)

Here’s a brief comparison of the overstay rate of Vietnamese students with those from Cambodia, China, and Thailand in FY 2020.

Vietnam: 4.49%

China: 0.66%

Cambodia: 2.74%

Thailand: 3.09%

Overstay rates are statistics that consular sections look in the aggregate and by institution. As you can see below, the overall rate was 1.43%. Vietnam has a high overstay rate, which the US Mission (Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate General in HCMC) is required to reduce. Word is that many Vietnamese students are applying for an F-1 with the goal of working and not studying, i.e., using the student visa as a backdoor means of emigration. Based on anecdotal evidence, my guess is that this is more of a problem at some institutions than others, namely, English language programs and community colleges.

If large numbers of international students at institution A are overstaying their visa, then consular officers will be less likely to issue a visa for a student bound for that institution. In effect, the victim ends up getting punished. Students (and agents) find out which institutions have a higher issuance rate and target them. In effect, they take advantage of their good reputation while at the same time tarnishing it. It’s an insidious process that’s difficult to counteract.

In FY 2020, CBP calculated a total of 1,801,550 students and exchange visitors who were expected to change status or depart the United States. The 1,801,550 is composed of 1,372,833 F, 13,828 M, and 414,889 J visa categories of admission. The F, M, and J Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.55 percent of the total number of students and exchange visitors who were expected to change status or depart the United States. The Suspected In-Country Overstay rate is 1.43% for the F visa category, 2.02% for the M visa category, and 1.91% for the J visa category.

International students who overstay their F-1 visa for more than 180 days will be barred from returning to the US for either three or 10 years, depending upon the length of the overstay. Of course, most end up transitioning to legal status, which makes this a moot point.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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