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3 of the Most Common Ways People Immigrate Illegally

What is Illegal Immigration?

When foreign nationals enter the United States in the violation of U.S. immigration laws, it is considered illegal immigration. This type of migration includes both people who enter the United States without explicit permission (for instance, a visa) or if they enter the country lawfully, but stay beyond the authorized amount of time permitted to them. In 2016, the illegal immigrant population in America amounted to almost 11 million people.

You may wonder: how do people enter the United States illegally? A country as large as the U.S. has more than one illegal ways to enter its border. Here are the three most common avenues for illegal immigration in America.


1. Illegal Entry

Each year, an estimated 500,000 people enter the country illegally, accounting for about 6.5 million of the undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. Often, people enter the country with the help of “coyotes,” people smugglers that operate on the U.S.-Mexico border. The most popular area fo unlawful migration is the desert border area of the state of the Arizona and Mexico border. However, not all illegal entries occur over the southern border. For instance, in 1993 the Golden Venture voyage attempted to smuggle almost 300 undocumented Chinese immigrants.

Illegal entry is a misdemeanor in the United States. If caught by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, non-nationals face deportation.



2. Visa Overstay

When a tourist or traveler stays in the United States beyond the deadline implemented on their legal travel visa, it is considered illegal immigration via “visa overstay.” About 5 million foreign nationals entered the country with a legal visa. In actuality, that accounts for somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of the illegal immigrant population.

The time a person has to remain in the United States legally depends on the kind of visa granted to the traveler. Typically, a visa overstayer enters the U.S. on a tourist or business visa. For this reason, most people consider visa overstay immigrants as educated and better-off than other types of illegal immigrants.

The United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program collects biometric information such as fingerprints and photographs of any nationals coming into the United States to track visa overstayers. Any person wishing to visit the United States must have a readable, electronic passport with the required information. 

Those who overstay their visa for less than a year, then leave the United States, face a three-year ban from re-entering the country. If the person overstays their visa for over a year, the ban increases to 10 years. In the fiscal year 2015, the Department of Homeland Security estimates out of 45 million legal U.S. arrivals by air and sea, almost 420k people remained in the country through 2016.


3. Border Crossing Card Violation

A less common illegal method of entry into the United States includes the abuse of the Border Crossing Card (BCC). The BCC authorizes an individual’s crossing the border for a specified amount of time. The Border Crossing Card is technically a visa that validates travel until an expiration date. The card typically has a ten-year expiration date.

While a smaller number of illegal immigrants use this method to enter the U.S., the BCC is the most common type of visa for registered non-immigrant entry. An estimated 148 million people out of 179 million total foreign visitors enter using the Border Crossing Card. However, it is difficult to determine how many people who are here illegally abused the visa to stay. Finally, a rough estimate states somewhere around 250-500,000 illegal immigrants came via Border Crossing Card violation.


Pozo Goldstein New York Immigration Law Firm

With the changing political climate, illegal immigration is more dangerous than ever. So, if you or a loved one wants to live in the U.S., your best course of action is to find a reputable immigration attorney who can guide you through the immigration process safely and legally. If you need help with immigration policies in the United States, contact Pozo Goldstein NYC today for a free consultation.