Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign tourists, students, and others seeking temporary admission to the United States. In 2017, President Trump restricted issuance of visas for people from certain countries and called for changes to NIV screening and vetting procedures.
State Department data indicated that about 2.8 million NIV applications were refused in fiscal year 2017. The Government Accountability Office found that more than 90 percent were because the applicant did not qualify for the visa, and 1,338 were refused due to the president’s visa entry restrictions.
The total number of nonimmigrant visa applications that State Department consular officers adjudicated annually peaked at about 13.4 million in fiscal year 2016, and decreased by about 880,000 adjudications in fiscal year 2017.
From fiscal years 2012 through 2017, about 80 percent of NIV adjudications were for tourists and business visitors. During this time, adjudications for temporary workers increased by about 50 percent and decreased for students and exchange visitors by about 2 percent.
In fiscal year 2017, more than half of all NIV adjudications were for applicants of six countries of nationality: China (2.02 million, or 16 percent), Mexico (1.75 million, or 14 percent), India (1.28 million, or 10 percent), Brazil (670,000, or 5 percent), Colombia (460,000, or 4 percent), and Argentina (370,000, or 3 percent).
State data indicate that over this time period, 18 percent of adjudicated applications were refused; more than 90 percent were because the applicant did not qualify for the visa sought, and a small percentage (0.05 percent) were due to terrorism and security-related concerns.
State, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and others developed standards for screening and vetting by the U.S. government for all immigration benefits, such as for the requirement for applicants to undergo certain security checks. The State Department sought and received emergency approval from the Office of Management and Budget in May 2017 to develop a new form to collect additional information from some visa applicants, such as email addresses and social media handles.