2.8 Million Non-Immigrant Visas Rejected in 2017

Non-immigrant visas saw changes in 2017 on the order of the current U.S. President, Donald Trump. These changes in the policy were made only to restrict entry of people from certain countries.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released numbers regarding non-immigrant visas to see if there have been any changes in numbers since the policy changes in 2017. Non-Immigrant visa, also termed ‘NIV’ is issued to people residing outside the United States. This type of visa can be issued to people seeking entry into the United States as tourists, students, employees or residency permits.

In 2017, according to the data collected by the State Department:

  • 2.8 million NIV applications were rejected
  • The top reason for rejection was applicants not being 100% qualified and eligible for a NIV
  • Of the applications rejected, 1,338 were denied based on the President’s executive action
  • NIV adjudications for student and exchange visitor visas decreased by about
    2% from fiscal years 2012 through 2017 (1.01 million to 993,000)
    overall, but experienced a peak in fiscal year 2015 of 1.2 million.
This graph provided by GAO shows the primary reasons for rejecting a non-immigrant visa application.


This graph shows which types of visa applications were most often reviewed.
This graph shows the trends of refusal rates for non-immigrant visas since 2012.


Country of Nationality

In 2016-2017; the maximum number of visa applications was from the following six countries.

  • China*
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Colombia
  • Argentina

*A special note about China 

According to the GAO report: “In November 2014, the United States extended the validity period of the F visa for academic students from 1 year to 5 years. State officials noted that similar to tourist and business visitor visas, there was an initial surge in Chinese F-visa applicants due to the new 5-year F-visa validity period that began in fiscal year 2015, but the number dropped subsequently because Chinese students with such 5-year visas no longer needed to apply as frequently for F visas. State data for this time period indicate that the number of visa adjudications for F visas for Chinese nationals increased from about 267,000 in fiscal year 2014 to 301,000 in fiscal year 2015, followed by a decline of 172,000 in fiscal year 2016 and 134,000 in fiscal year 2017.”


In working year of 2017, majority of visa applications were for business employee permits and tourists. The student visa applications decreased by a possible 2 percent.


NIV application area in the US Embassy

There have been changes made into the structural layout of the NIV application area in the US embassy area as well based on the changes in the visa policy. There are three section divisions in the embassy;

  • For checking applicant’s information
  • For biometric identity verification
  • For applicant interviews and visa approval/rejection


What is GAO? 

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