The United States has cut by nearly half the number of visas it has issued to citizens of Iran and other countries targeted by President Donald Trump's travel ban even though courts have prevented that ban from taking effect.
Iranians hoping to visit family in the United States or conduct other business there received only 393 immigrants visas last month compared with an average of 644 visas granted each month during 2016, according to data released by the U.S. State Department on April 27.
For all of the seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted by Trump's executive order, visa issuance was down by 40 percent from last year, the statistics show. Besides Iran, targeted countries included Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Those countries received about 3,200 nonimmigrant visas in March 2017, compared to about 5,700 on average per month during the 2016 fiscal year and more than 6,000 on average per month in 2015 and 2014.
"Either there are many fewer people applying because they believe they will be denied, or a much higher rate of denials is already happening even though the executive orders have been blocked" by the courts, said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.