Pakistan is experiencing a significant decrease in number of non-immigrant US visas issued to its nationals under the new administration despite not being on the list of US President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” countries.
An analysis of newly-released official figures shows non-immigrant visas granted to Pakistanis were down by 40% in March and April this year compared to the monthly average in 2016, the News International reported on Monday.
On the other hand, the number of non-immigrant visas increased for India by 28 per cent in March and April this year as compared to last year, said the report.
The US State Department data showed Indian nationals received 87,049 visas in April and 97,925 visas in March. Last year, people from India received 72,082 non-immigrant visas per month on average with an annual total of 864,987 visas.
Pakistanis were issued 3,925 non-immigrant visas in April and 3,973 visas in March this year under the Trump administration, the daily reported on Monday.
The Barack Obama administration last year issued a total of 78,637 non-immigrant visas to Pakistanis with a monthly average of 6,553 — 40% higher than the current average.
A spokesperson of US State Department said: “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 though there may be different trends at the country, nationality, or visa-category level,” the spokesperson added.
Six countries — Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — targeted by Trump’s March 6 travel ban experienced 55% decline in non-immigrant visas compared with last year’s monthly average.
Experts said drop in visas may indicate that more visa applicants are now subject to excessive scrutiny.
A week after assuming office Trump had issued an executive order barring visitors from Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
US federal court blocked the order after massive protests, terming the order discriminatory against Muslims.
A revised softer executive order issued in March also met a similar fate.