Trump effect? 40% fall in US visas for Pakistanis, 28% rise for Indians
Pakistan’s The News calculated the drop for the months of March and April this year compared to the unweighted annualised average for 2016, not taking into account traditional seasonal surges such as summer months, other breaks and holidays.Updated: May 29, 2017 21:24 IST
Hindustan Times, Washington
While President Donald Trump’s travel ban has been stuck in courts, the number of non-immigrant visas being issued by the United States to citizens of Muslim-majority countries has been generally declining — including to those in Pakistan, according to some calculations.
As first reported by Pakistan’s The News, the drop was an estimated 40% for Pakistan in the months of March and April this year compared to the unweighted annualised average for 2016, not taking into account traditional seasonal surges such as summer months, other breaks and holidays.
Numbers were up by an estimated 28% for India, by the same calculation.
US news site Politico had first used this model to report a 20% decline in the number of non-immigrant visa issues to citizens of nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, not factoring in seasonal surges pointed out by the state department and experts.
An apple-to-apple, month-on-month comparison — April 2017 and April 2016 or 2015, for instance — could not be done as the monthly breakdown for 2016 and preceding years could not be obtained immediately by Hindustan Times.
It was also not clear if the drop was because of visa refusal or fewer applicants or both — travel and immigration experts have noted a general decline in travel to the United States in recent months. The rate of refusal of B visas — the most popular short-stay US visa for tourism and business — for Pakistan was 46.43% in 2016; it was 26.02% for India.
Trump’s March executive order remains stuck in court, with an appeals court upholding a stay on it last week, despite it being narrower in scope compared to the first one that he issued in January. The administration plans to go to the Supreme Court.
The new order suspends the issuance of new visas to citizens of Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan (Iraq figured in the first order but was dropped from the second); and the entry of all refugees, and not only from Muslim-majority countries.
Pakistan is not in that list, but it seems to have suffered a decline according to a calculation of the state department data by Pakistan’s The News, which used the same formula to first report the 40% drop in non-immigrant visas to Pakistanis — to 3,925 in April and 3,973 March from the unweighted annualised average of 6,553 in 2016 (total 78,637).
A state department spokesperson told Politico: “Visa demand is cyclical, not uniform throughout the year, and affected by various factors at the local and international level. Visa issuance numbers tend to increase during peak travel seasons, such as during the summer and the winter holidays, though there may be different trends at the country, nationality, or visa-category level.”.
First Published: May 29, 2017 19:52 IST