The New Enhanced Screening Directive: In Numbers

The four countries (Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria) designated as “state sponsors of terrorism” have a collective total population of 141 million people (2007 estimate | WolframAlpha).  The ten “countries of interest” have a collective total population of 468.1 million people (2007 estimate | Wolfram Alpha).

The new directive mandates that “every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening.”

I do not know how many non-citizen travelers actually originate/transit/travel through these 14 countries en route to the United States.  But I was curious at how many nationals from these countries could be impacted by the new directive.  So I went digging for numbers.

Below is the grand total of nonimmigrant visa issuance and admission by nationality on the reported countries covered by the new TSA enhanced screening directive.  The “ISSUED” data come from published statistics of the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the State Department, covering the period October 2007-September 2008.  (See the FY2008 NIV Detail Table on nonimmigrant visa issuances by visa class and by nationality). Issued visas can be as short as 3 months with one entry or can have the maximum validity of 10 years with multiple entry.  Which actually means, you can use it to travel to any US port of entry or border crossing and apply for temporary admission into the country while it is valid.  The validity of the visa is not the length of authorized stay in the United States.  Read more here
The “ADMITTED” column below comes from the Department of Homeland Security.  DHS maintains the records of admittance to the United States of foreign visitors by citizenship, country of residence, gender, age, etc.  Even with a visa, the authority to admit an alien into the US is still under DHS.  The length of stay that immigration officers grant foreign visitors can vary, but the normal length of stay authorized as I understand it is usually six months.  Check out its Yearbook of Immigration Statistics here.  You might also want to check out this April 2009 Annual Flow Report from DHS on admission.  The DHS numbers below are extracted from Table 26 (XLS, 54 KB Nonimmigrant Admissions (I-94 Only) by Region and Country of Citizenship: Fiscal Years 1999 to 2008).

COUNTRY
ISSUED
DOS
FY 2008
ADMITTED
DHS
FY2008
Cuba
13,108
15,130
Iran
12,635
11,479
Sudan  
2,502
2,319
Syria
6,421
7,441
Nigeria
59,748
88,732
Pakistan:
32,666
57,922
Saudi Arabia
36,224
46,853
Lebanon
19,888
28,669
Algeria:
5,947
6,215
Libya
5,375
4,313
Iraq
3,714
3,351
Afghanistan
2,454
2,323
Yemen
1,573
1,616
Somalia
227
24
                         Sources: FY2008 NIV Detail Table (State)
                                        and  Table 26 (DHS)
It is important to note that the number of issuance and number of admission above have no real correlation because an applicant issued a visa in 2008 may have decided to travel/apply for admission at a port of entry in the United States in 2009. Or a visitor who applied for admission for entry in the United States in 2008 may have been issued a visa a year or two previously. To see the trends in the number of admission to the United States, check out DHS’s Table 26, an excel spreadsheet that details total admission by country from FY 2009 FY 1999 – FY 2008.        

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