The State Department refused more than 37,000 visa applications in 2018 due to the Trump administration’s travel ban, up from less than 1,000 the previous year when the ban had not fully taken effect, according to agency data released on Tuesday.
The United States denies nearly four million visa applications a year for a variety of reasons. The data released on Tuesday was the first comprehensive look at the human effect of Republican President Donald Trump’s ban, imposed shortly after he took office and initially blocked by federal courts.
The ban has especially affected people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, countries where the number of visas issued slid 80 percent in 2018 from 2016, the last year without a travel ban.
Trump’s initial January 2017 executive order banning entry to the US by citizens of several Muslim-majority countries launched a fierce fight in the federal courts over whether the policy amounts to an unlawful “Muslim ban” or is a legal exercise of presidential power.
The administration revised the policy following court challenges, and the Supreme Court allowed it to largely go into effect in December 2017 while legal challenges continued. In June 2018, the high court upheld the new version of the ban.
As a result, most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have not been able to enter the US for well over a year. Venezuela and North Korea also were affected in the current policy, but those restrictions were not challenged in court.
15,000 immigrant visas denied
The figures released on Tuesday show the government denied 15,384 applications for immigrant visas – given to those who want to live permanently in the US – due to the “2017 Executive Order on Immigration”. A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that term referred to the travel ban policy.
Approximately 2,200 visa applications overcame denials based on the travel ban last year, but it was unclear how many of those applications were initially made last year or earlier.
The data did not include how many visa applications were made by citizens from countries affected by the travel ban.
Every month, the State Department releases the numbers of visas issued to citizens of all countries, including those under the travel ban, but it does not publish equivalent monthly information on the number of visa applications or denials by country.
Other previously released data from the State Department shows that the number of US visas issued to citizens of the countries under the travel ban has dropped drastically as a result of its implementation.