Donald Trump has responded to criticism of his visa ban for people from seven countries, stating 'It's not a Muslim ban'.

The US president signed an executive order on 27 January that banned entry to the US for 90 days for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya; and also issued an indefinite ban on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

"It's not a Muslim ban," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on 28 January, in comments carried by The Hill.

"It's working out very nicely," he said. "You see it at the airports, you see it all over."

His comments came as protests took place at JFK Airport in New York, where 12 people were detained under Trump's new orders, with lawyers for two Iraqi refugees who had legal documentation to travel to the US filing a lawsuit against Trump, CNN reported.

One of the Iraqi men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was travelling to the US on a special immigration visa granted to him due to his work for the US as an interpreter during the Iraq War.

He was released and is expected to be allowed to remain in the country as he had the legal documents required to travel.

Trump's executive order has faced widespread criticism from both civilians and politicians, who claim the order is a de facto Muslim ban.

But Trump's defenders say the ban does not apply to all majority-Muslim countries and describe the actions as 'extreme vetting'.

The president has long proposed stricter entry policy to the US in an effort to curb terrorism, pledging a Muslim ban during his presidential election campaign in comments described ad divisive and xenophobic by his critics.