But the latest annual figures underscore how visa overstays are a big driver of illegal immigration. An estimated 40 per cent of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally stayed past their visas.
The total number of overstays is much larger but has not been quantified because it doesn't include how many people arrive by land.
The cost and technological hurdles to develop a checkout system at congested land crossings are enormous. Last year, authorities occasionally captured fingerprints from people in vehicles at three crossings with Mexico and plan to test facial recognition technology on pedestrians at two Arizona crossings with Mexico.
In 2016, Homeland Security published the number of overstays for the first time in at least two decades. From October 2015 through September 2016, there were 739,478 overstays among visitors who arrived by plane or ship.
Overstays accounted for 1.3 per cent of the 52.7 million visitors who arrived by plane or ship during the latest period, an improvement from the overstay rate of 1.5 per cent a year earlier.
The overstay rate was much higher among students and foreign exchange visitors, with 4.2 per cent staying after their visas expired, a decline from 5.5 per cent the previous year.
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