The United States has denied visas to two students from Afghanistan who were to participate in a robotics competition in Washington DC, though it has allowed the robot they invented to enter the country, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Fatemah Qaderyan, 14, and Lida Azizi, 17, are part of a six-member team that had entered the contest organised by non-profit FIRST Global. They will now watch their ball-sorting robot compete via a live Skype video link from their hometown of Herat, Afghanistan, on July 16-18.

“We still don’t know the reason why we were not granted visas because other countries participating in the competition have been given visas,” Qaderyan said. Her teammate Azizi believes the visa denial was a “clear insult for the people of Afghanistan”.

However, “Team Hope” from Syrian and those from Iran and Sudan – three countries that feature in US President Trump’s travel ban order – were granted visas. Afghanistan is not among the six Muslim-majority countries that face this restriction.

Members of the team from Gambia had been also denied visas.

In a post on the organisation’s Facebook page, FIRST Global President Joe Sestak said he was “saddened” by the US decision, but that they would make sure that the Afghan team would be able to participate in the competition through a video link. “That is how we must now honor our fellow teammates, those brave girls from Afghanistan.”

A US State Department official refused to comment, saying regulations barred him from discussing individual visa cases.