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State Department data shows decline in visas issued

As we've documented on our blog over the last several months, the executive order signed -- and subsequently revised -- by President Donald Trump barring people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days due to security concerns has been routinely defeated by the federal courts.

Indeed, last Thursday was no different, as the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declined to reinstate the travel ban, indicating that it "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

While most news stories are now discussing how the executive order will be heading to the Supreme Court of the United States for review, this isn't the only story worth noting. Indeed, the State Department -- per a presidential directive -- recently released monthly data on the number of visas issued around the world, including the aforementioned travel ban countries.

This data reveals that the U.S. issued close to 50 percent fewer visas to citizens of Iraq (subsequently removed from the list), Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen in April 2017 than in an average month last year, while the total number of visas issued globally was also 15 percent lower.

Specifically, roughly 2,800 visas were issued to citizens of these seven nations in April 2017 versus roughly 5,700 per month in 2016, and over 6,000 per month in 2015 and 2014.

While these numbers would seem to suggest the travel ban has played a role, it must be noted that the State Department did not release figures on the total number of visa applications, meaning the lower numbers could conceivably be attributable to fewer applicants and longer processing times as opposed to more rejections.

It will be interesting, of course, to see if these figures change in the coming months given the aforementioned court defeats. Stay tuned for developments …

If you have questions or concerns regarding an immigration law matter -- from visas to citizenship -- consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options.  

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