Travel Ban Cuts Immigration 93%, Travel 86% From Targeted Countries

The Supreme Court upheld the legality and constitutionality of President Trump’s travel ban this week, but it had already allowed the ban to go fully into effect on December 4, pending its final decision. We now have five full months of data from the State Department to see how the ban has affected immigration and travel from the countries that the ban targeted. Overall, we have seen a dramatic decline in visa approvals, affecting most notably Iranians and Yemenis.

Figure 1 shows the difference in the average monthly visa issuances for temporary visitors (i.e. nonimmigrants) and immigrants (i.e. permanent residents) for the seven countries affected by the final travel ban order for fiscal year 2016 compared to the first five months of calendar year 2018 (after the ban took effect). Figure 1 doesn’t include Venezuela because the order exempted all Venezuelans except for a few government officials. Chadians are included, although their restrictions were lifted on April 11, 2018. There was an 86 percent decline in the average monthly approvals for temporary visitors from the seven countries, and a 93 percent decline in the average monthly approvals for new permanent residents.

Figure 1: Average Monthly Visa Issuances For Nationals of Travel Ban Countries

86% Fewer Visas for Temporary Workers, Tourists, and Students

Figure 2 shows the monthly issuances for temporary (i.e. “nonimmigrant”) visas for the seven nationalities singled out by the final order from March 2017 through May 2018, with the monthly averages for the first five months of fiscal year 2017 and the average monthly issuances for fiscal year 2016 (monthly figures are unavailable prior to March 2017). As it shows, the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the injunction in December led to a massive decline in visas, particularly for Iranians.

Figure 2: Monthly Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances For Nationals of Travel Ban Countries*

Table 1 shows the monthly averages for each nationality covered under the final travel ban. All nationalities saw visa issuances decline 86 percent. Iranians saw the biggest decline of 91 percent. There were 1,631 fewer temporary visas issued for Iranians on average during the months in 2018 than during 2016. This accounted for 62.7 percent of the total decline in temporary visas for all of the travel ban countries.

Table 1

93 Percent Fewer Visas for Permanent Immigrants

Figure 3 shows the monthly issuances for immigrant (i.e. permanent) visas for the seven countries singled out in the final travel ban order. Like Figure 2, it shows sharp declines following the Supreme Court decision in December 2017 to allow the ban to go into full effect before its final decision this week.

Figure 3: Monthly Immigrant Visa Issuances For Nationals of Travel Ban Countries*

Table 2 provides the monthly averages for each nationality covered under the final travel ban. All nationalities saw immigrant visa issuances decline 93 percent. Yemenis saw the biggest percentage decline of 98 percent, and the largest absolute decline of more than 1,000 fewer visas per month in 2018. Yemenis accounted for more than half the decline in immigrant visas issued to nationals of the travel ban from 2016 to 2018.

Table 2

Overall, the travel ban has had significant effects on immigration and travel from the affected countries. As I’ve noted before, however, the travel ban fits into a larger swathe of policies intended to reduce Muslim immigration and travel to the United States. These policies have worked. Muslim immigration, travel, and refugee admissions to the United States have plummeted under this administration. With the Supreme Court having approved this policy approach, it is likely that similar policies will appear in the future.