Tens of thousands of visas belonging to foreigners from seven predominantly Muslim countries have been provisionally revoked following President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel by people from those countries to the United States. The exact number of revoked visas remains unclear. An attorney representing the US government said in a Virginia court on Friday that more than 100,000 visas had been revoked. But the State Department later disputed the numbers, claiming that fewer than 60,000 visas had been revoked.
A State Department memo released earlier this week revealed that the visa revocations were a result of Trump’s executive order, but it was only in court on Friday that the number of revoked visas was made public. “You could hear the gasps in the courtroom,” Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Justice Center, told the New York Times. The visa-holders were not notified of the revocations, the paper reported. The change strands thousands of people outside the United States and prevents thousands of others in the country from leaving and coming back.
The State Department memo notes that there are exemptions for some diplomatic visas, and waivers could be applied on a “case-by-case basis” at the determination of the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Because the visas were revoked “provisionally,” they could potentially be reinstated, a State Department official told the Huffington Post.
This story has been updated.