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Analysis by Politico shows “notable drop” in visas issued in Muslim-majority countries, in addition to the eight nations targeted under the travel ban

Pakistan may not figure on the list of Muslim-majority nations targeted by US President Donald Trump’s travel ban but the country is definitely being hit by the policy of its traditional ally. An analysis done by American political journalism magazine Politico for the six months since Trump’s travel ban came into effect shows a 26 per cent decline in the number of US non-immigrant visas issued to Pakistani nationals in 2017 compared to the corresponding average of the previous year.

The Politico analysis reported by Pakistan’s media major – Dawn – says there has been 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. The US president had, shortly after being elected to office earlier this year, passed an executive order which initially barred travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan from coming into America. Later Iraq and Sudan were dropped from the list and Chad, North Korea and Venezuela were added to it.

The report in Dawn states that although Pakistan is not on the list of countries that were barred by the Trump administration, it ─ along with a few other South Asian countries ─ has also seen a decline in the number of US visas issued to its citizens.

The issuance of visas to the seven countries initially named in the ban dropped 44 per cent this year compared to the monthly average data from March to August in fiscal year 2016, Politico reported, with Syria and Yemen seeing the steepest declines.

Visitor visas to Arab nations have seen a decline of 16 per cent, while the number of visas issued to people from 50 Muslim-majority countries in general has dropped by eight per cent.

The Politico analysis shows that from countries that are directly barred under the travel ban, Iran witnessed a 37 per cent decline in the number of visas issued over the six-month period since early-2017 compared to the period of March-August 2016, whereas Somalia saw a 42 per cent drop in visas in the same time period.

Interestingly, some Muslim-majority countries like the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan witnessed an increase in non-immigrant visas.

The decline in issuance of US visas to people from Muslim-majority nations may, however, also be because several citizens of these countries who otherwise aspired to go to the United States now choose against it, ostensibly to avoid the hassle and embarrassment of applying for the visa and being rejected.

How Politico conducted its analysis

Politico’s analysis is based on visa data provided by the US State Department. The magazine compared the average number of non-immigrant visas issued from March to August 2017 with the corresponding time period in 2016.

“Experts consulted for this story said the six-month sample offered an informative picture of visa issuances,” Politico said while releasing its findings.

The data does not take into account the number of visa applications, which makes it impossible to assess the difference in visa application rejections before and after the travel ban.

-Courtesy: Politico and Dawn

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