President Trump’s revised executive order to once again suspend the United States’ refugee program and temporarily ban immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries has naturally stoked fears of tighter restrictions against visa applications. The original order, signed in January this year, resulted in legitimate visa holders being held in airports in the country due to their citizenship and country of origin. This prompted a Seattle court to file an injunction against the so-called Muslim ban, which has since been frozen.
Yet despite the travel ban, gaining legal entry into the United States, even on a temporary basis (e.g. for work, leisure, education purposes), has always been challenging for people from different countries, especially in recent years. In fact, it has turned into a significant source of revenue.
According to data collected by Axibase, a data analysis software company, “In 2015, the U.S. State Department earned over $400 million from non-immigrant visa applications that ended up being rejected.” The report also revealed that the federal government rejected around 1 in every 5 applications, amounting to more than 2.6 million denied non-immigrant visas, each one costing an average of $160 in fees.