Fall in number of visas to foreign citizens subject to Trump's 'Muslim ban'
As a leading provider of processing services to those seeking Saudi Arabia visas, Documents and Visas always takes an interest in the latest visa issues relating to the Middle East.
It therefore intrigued us to read that according to immigration lawyers, there has been a 40 per cent drop in the number of temporary visas issued by the United States to citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries covered by President Donald Trump's temporary travel bans than was the case in the average month last year.
A notable drop in visas for affected countries
The decline in visa application approvals became clear from a Reuters analysis of preliminary government data, which also showed an almost five per cent rise in the total of US non-immigrant visas issued to people from all countries in March, compared to the monthly average for 2016.
March this year saw about 3,200 non-immigrant visas awarded to citizens of the seven nations - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - affected by the bans. This was significantly down on the about 5,700 visas received on average each month during the 2016 fiscal year, as well as the two years before that when more than 6,000 approvals were recorded on average per month.
The reasons for the fewer visas are unclear
The data was released by the State Department in response to Trump's directive requesting the publication of monthly breakdowns of the number of visas issued globally.
However, with the department not releasing data on the total number of all types of visa applications, it is unclear whether a higher rejection rate explains the decline in the number of temporary visas issued to citizens of the seven countries, or instead other factors such as slower processing times or a lower number of applicants.
While a State Department official described visa demand as "cyclical, not uniform throughout the year", according to several immigration lawyers as reported by Middle East Eye, March is not an especially busy or slow time for temporary visa issuances to people from the seven countries. This would seem to indicate that the fall in approvals is a significant one.
Suggestions that Trump policies could be influencing visa numbers
Despite Trump's travel bans later being blocked in the courts, some immigration attorneys have suggested that the data provides a glimpse into how visa decisions are being affected by the President's policies.
William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, commented: "Either there are many fewer people applying because they believe they will be denied, or a much higher rate of denials is already happening even though the executive orders have been blocked."
One Muslim-majority country that was controversially never included in the US President's proposed bans is Saudi Arabia, and those interested in securing Saudi Arabia visas can have faith in Documents and Visas providing the most complete, efficient and reliable processing service.
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