30 Sep 17/Saturday
Pakistan tops the list of Muslim countries that are feeling the pinch of United States (US) President Donald Trump’s visa ban about six months in, with 26 % fewer non-immigrant visas issued to Pakistanis in 2017.
Trump passed an executive order at the beginning of the year which initially barred travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan. In successive iterations of the ban, Iraq and Sudan were dropped from the list and Chad, North Korea and Venezuela were added to it.
Data collected and analyzed by Politico showed a “notable drop” in the number of visas issued to people from Muslim-majority countries overall, in addition to those targeted by Trump’s travel ban, with Arab states among the hardest hit.
Although Pakistan is not on the list of countries that were barred, it has also seen a decline in the number of visas issued to travellers. Trump’s regime in White House seems to be of the opinion that the Pakistani Immigrant is more non-tolerable than an Iranian Immigrant.
The issuance of visas to the seven countries initially named in the ban dropped 44 % this year compared to monthly average data from March to August in the fiscal year 2016 with Syria and Yemen seeing the steepest declines.
Visitor visas to Arab nations fell 16 % while the number of visas issued to people from 50 Muslim majority countries, in general, dropped 8 %
Iran witnessed a 37 % decline whereas Somalia saw a 42 % drop in visas in the same time period.
Some Muslim countries, however, including the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, were among those that witnessed an increase in non-immigrant visas, the data showed.
Interestingly, the number of total visas issued remained virtually unchanged.
A New York City-based partner at Withers Worldwide, an immigration law firm, Riaz Jafri, told that he found that many people from Muslim-majority countries now choose not to travel to the US. He recalled meeting clients abroad who “didn’t want to go through the hassle” of applying for a US visa.
Jafri also observed people increasingly going through “background checks under a process called administrative processing” ─ a form of extended vetting that may take up to eight to 10 weeks for some of his clients.
Jafri, whose clients’ nationalities include Pakistani, Malaysian, Indonesian and others, noted that he had seen four visa denials this year which were attributed to alleged links to terror groups, including a visa application from a prominent businessman.
Additionally, he pointed out that that the time taken by extended vetting is a hindrance to business travellers. “They can’t operate in that type of uncertain environment, so they’re not travelling.
He further added that tougher measures targeting countries which sponsor terrorism is the need of the hour.