The revelation caused shockwaves on Twitter, but the State Department actually confirmed earlier this week that it had provisionally revoked most visas held by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
State Department officials said later Friday that fewer than 60,000 individuals’ visas were provisionally revoked as a result of the order. “To put that number in context, we issued over 11 million immigrant and non-immigrant visas in fiscal year 2015,” a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs told The Huffington Post.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the discrepancy in numbers.
The visa revocations are the State Department’s method of enforcing President Donald Trump’s executive order. With exceptions for legal permanent residents and some others, people from the seven countries cannot enter the U.S., and those already here can’t leave and come back.
Those currently in the U.S. on revoked visas will still be allowed to live in the U.S. for the term of their visa and do the things they were previously authorized to do, such as working or attending school, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told HuffPost.
Unless they violate the terms of their initial visa, they will not be at risk of deportation. But they can’t leave and come back while the order is in effect, the spokeswoman said.
Visas belonging to people from the seven countries were “provisionally revoked, meaning that that is something that could be reversed,” when the temporary ban on travelers from the seven countries expires on April 27, a State Department official told HuffPost on Friday.
Although it’s not an expansion of Trump’s order, the government lawyer’s statement on Friday illustrates the enormous effect the president’s measure has. More than 200 million citizens of the seven countries are barred from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days, with very few exceptions.
The ban also hurts 60,000 refugees whom the U.S. planned to resettle but now will not, because Trump’s order cut admission goals for refugees. It also halts all refugee resettlement for 120 days and Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely, leaving tens of thousands of people in refugee camps.
The rollout of Trump’s executive order has caused considerable confusion about who will and will not be affected by the ban, and authorities were clearly unprepared to implement the order when it was announced. After chaos in U.S. airports and widespread protests, Trump administration officials later said they would grant exemptions to legal permanent residents and to Iraqis with Special Immigrant Visas.
For more information about the order, see the list of questions below. This is reporting, not legal advice, and is subject to change. If you’re not sure about your situation, contact an attorney.
I am a citizen of one of the seven affected countries and I want to travel to the United States. Can I?
Trump’s executive order bars most nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days, with some exceptions. Individuals who are U.S. legal permanent residents are able to return to the country, as are Iraqis with Special Immigrant Visas, which are granted to people who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government. People who also have citizenship in a non-affected country can travel to the U.S. on the other country’s passport. U.S. citizens are not barred from the country due to the order.
I am a U.S. legal permanent resident/green card holder with citizenship from one of the seven countries. Can I travel to and from the U.S.?
The executive order’s language initially included legal permanent residents from the seven affected countries, but the Trump administration later said they would be exempt from the order. They can now travel to and from the U.S. as before.
I am a visa holder or legal permanent resident from a country not on the list of affected countries. How am I affected?
The executive order currently applies only to seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. That means that currently, someone who holds a visa from another country is not affected. For example, a green card holder who is a French citizen can enter the U.S. However, the Trump administration has left the door open to expanding the list of countries.
I am a visa holder from one of the seven countries, but I’m already in the U.S. Will I be deported? Can I travel outside the U.S.? Will I be able to come back?
Government officials said U.S. visa holders from one of the seven affected countries who are already in the U.S. will not lose their authorization to work or attend school during the term of their initial visa. They can also leave during the 90-day period ― but they will not be able to return.
I am a dual citizen of one of the seven countries and another country. Can I travel to and from the U.S.?
Dual citizens of an affected country and a non-affected country are not affected by the order. If an individual holds a passport from Syria and from France, for example, he or she can enter the U.S. using a French passport.
I am a refugee. Can I settle in the U.S.?
The executive order suspends refugee resettlement from all countries for 120 days and Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely.
The order does allow the government to make exceptions during the 120-day period in some instances, including if the individual is a persecuted religious minority or is already in transit to the U.S. The government allowed nearly 900 refugees to resettle in the U.S. in the week after the order was announced because they were already in transit.
This story has been updated with answers to a series of frequently asked questions about Trump’s executive order.