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.
Examples of non-immigrant visas included petitions for students, employment, business, and tourism. According to the State Department website, reasons for denial of applications range from records of drug use, being convinced of a “crime involving moral turpitude,” and lacking proof of sufficient financial support in the United States.
And even before the travel ban, individuals from the six Muslim-majority countries—Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan (Iraq, which was previously included, is no longer on the list)—have always had a below average chance of having their visa applications approved, especially in recent years.
The same Axibase report shows that the rejection rate for a country like Syria has slowly increased over the last few years—from 24 percent in 2008 to 63 percent in 2014. Similarly, Iran’s rejection rate increased from 31 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2015.
Mexico takes the cake for having the highest number of non-immigrant visa rejections in 2015. The U.S. denied more than 370,000 applications—roughly equal to $60 million and 15 percent of all fees collected from denied petitions. In Asia, China and India combined to account for $95 million in rejected fees. China is also the country with the highest number of non-immigrant visa applications.
If you or a loved one needs a full explanation of the visa application process, sit down for a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more about how our services can help you.