Is The Muslim Travel Ban Still in Effect in The United States?

A controversial order from the previous president Donald J. Trump in 2017 was branded discriminatory by many. This order particularly focused on seven Muslim-majority countries and it severely restricted residents of these countries from entering the United States.

Though Biden took measures to reverse this when he came to power, the rejection of visa applications, lottery diversity, or green cards for citizens of Muslim backgrounds in these countries is still prevalent, according to Aljazeera, a major mainstream news organisation in the MENA region.

If you are applying for a US visa in a post-Trump world, you are probably wondering how you can maximize your chances of success.

The background of the Executive Ban Order

After January 2017, when President Trump issued an executive order blocking refugees and travellers to the US from the affected countries, Amnesty International rallied against this and it was temporarily halted on 9th February. Soon after, a revised ban was imposed by the White House, to continue to impose restrictions.

Has it got any easier with Biden?

President Biden reversed many of Trump’s anti-immigration policies when he came to office in 2021, but the effects of the restrictions are still felt. As of April 2021, CNN reported a backlog of nearly 2.6 million visa applications, nearly half a million of which were “documentarily ready for interviews”.

The effects of Trump’s ban on residents of Muslim-dominated countries have been combined with a “pandemic effect,” which refers to the fact that the State Department suspended visa services at American embassies around the globe to reduce the spread of COVID19, compounding today’s backlog.

There are still aspects of Trump’s policies that Biden has yet to revisit, also. In June 2022, CBS News reported that since the Kabul crisis, the USCIS has received over 46,000 applications from Afghans hoping to come to the US through the parole process, but only 297 of these have been approved, while 4,246 were denied.

According to Forbes, they have now updated their guidance on the expectations of Afghans seeking parole to lessen these rejection rates, but evidently, there are still areas of the old policies that need to be revised.

When applying for a Visa, what should you consider?

Before you apply for a US visa, ensure you have read up on common ineligibilities that could impede the process. Don’t forget to provide all supporting documents that you have been asked for, make sure you can show you have adequate finances to support yourself in the US and that you can show you have all required vaccinations.

If applying for a student visa, it is important that you can show the interviewer you are planning on returning to your home country after your studies. Prepare to be asked about career prospects in your home country and anything that ties you to your hometowns, such as family and any accommodation you might own. These will increase your chances of success.

If the purpose of your visit is business-related, be prepared to have conversations with your company or clients about meeting elsewhere.

In 2020, Reez Jafri, a partner at Withers LLP explained that clients hoping to apply for visas for business travel were not willing to wait if relatives of Americans and people who had been offered jobs in the US:

“A businessperson isn’t going to wait six months or a year to come to the US. They’ll meet the client elsewhere”.

In light of all this, consider carefully the reasons you wish to come to the US, the amount of time you can afford to wait in the queue, and, should you still wish to go ahead, review carefully the potential issues that can arise along the application process so that you maximize your chances.