Multiple-Entry visa for Iranian Students

Please read our attached Letter to President Obama.

Due to single-entry visa issuance, meeting family and relatives is of much difficulty for Iranian students. Iranian students must apply for a USA visa in other countries such as Armenia, United Emirates, or Turkey. Reapplying for a visa in this specific way is more costly, time-consuming, and has a long clearance duration. Thereby, it's risky and could indeed interfere with a student's academic program and responsibilities in his/her university.

An alternative would be parents' traveling to the USA to visit their dear ones. But this trip is especially expensive and difficult. It includes a trip to aforementioned countries and renting an apartment in the USA which are not simply affordable for all families, considering the low relative rate of Iran's currency. Also, in this way a student cannot see his/her relatives and siblings.

Students from Iran like all other students are involved in very helpful projects at universities of the USA, helping to build a better, safer, and more peaceful world. In general, the key is to distinguish between people and their government, as the former is not necessarily the representative of the latter’s decrees.

We, similar to all students, care about our dear ones. Please sign this petition so that most Iranian students could obtain multiple-entry visa, similar to most international students, and be able to visit their dear ones without the distress of long visa clearance periods, risk of rejections, and the pressure of high expenses for parents and family members.

Dear President Obama,

Respectfully, I am writing this letter, on behalf of many Iranian students, as a request for reconsidering single-entry visa issuance.

As you know, every year many students leave Iran, their home country, to come to the United States, not only to continue their studies to higher levels, but also to strive for a better and safer world via research conduct. That is, with no doubt, a valuable opportunity that lets individuals experience different dimensions of life, both academic and non-academic, in an international milieu. Living among people from various countries, with diverse cultures and values, contributes both to increasing the level of acceptance, and elevating communication, not founded on nationality, but based on pure humanity. Moreover, the chance to be a part of leading scientific research in a spectrum of areas, from developing new devices for purifying water to new approaches for battling cancer cells, and from building smart prostheses to constructing earth-friendly houses, is what most students are thankful for. 

I, as a representative of most Iranian students, am aware of the intricate considerations behind issuing single-entry visa, and the role of Iran-USA governments’ relationship in making decisions on visa status for prospective students. I see all the concerns of international village, including USA, about Iran’s nuclear program. Furthermore, I thoroughly comprehend the considerable complexity of world’s efforts to reach a unified global peace, a meaning whose preciousness and delicacy is more and more felt in today’s globe. Yet, I believe that those students who leave their homes and families, and embrace all the difficulties of studying abroad are positively moving on the path to a better world.  The willingness to take such a journey is rooted in an important cause: contributing to science and technology, alongside with personal progress during graduate studies in the best research facilities.

Most Iranian people, including students studying overseas, undoubtedly want Iran’s government and the rest of the world to come into a safe and peaceful agreement on aforementioned issues, a fact that was partially, but lucidly shown in people’s choice in 2013 presidential election. However, many Iranian students in US have been impacted directly by sanctions, and they are only given the right to have single-entry visa. This leads me to wonder how placing restrictions on students’ visas would influence the behavior of a government under sanctions, in general. Because hypothetically, if technology transfer to that country were a consideration, it wouldn’t necessarily require students’ physical presence, taking all the communication means into account.

In addition to the difficulties international students have to encounter when leaving their families, most Iranian students must particularly prepare themselves for the fact that they wouldn’t be able to easily return to Iran during their PhD years. I am certain that you believe in the importance of family and the loving bond among its members. That is a valuable bond that not only exists among core family members, but also among relatives; a love that is not circumscribing, but indeed fomenting for human’s personality and soul to soar. It is not easy to understand why students from Iran must give up on having some time each year with their families and relatives, just because they’re determined to study in excellence; especially when the majority of other international students can easily travel between USA and their own countries.

Of course, in lieu of giving up on visiting family and relatives during 4-7 years of PhD study, other alternatives exist:

(1) Some students choose to return to Iran despite their awareness of the possible risks of not being reapproved by US embassy or facing long clearance period. This approach constitutes another trip to Armenia, Turkey, or Dubai, to apply again for an F-1 visa, each time those students want to go for a visit to their families in Iran. Iranian students’ reapplying for a visa is specifically more time consuming and costly, as they have to travel to another country. Moreover, visa clearance duration could take up to several months and interfere with students’ academic program. 

(2) The next, and surely less risky alternative is for students’ parents to go to USA as visitors. This alternative has its own difficulties as well. First of all, the whole process, from applying for a tourist visa, and traveling to one of the three mentioned countries to taking a trip to USA, renting a place to stay for a short time, and staying in a country whose relative currency value is much higher than Iran’s, is hard and expensive. It should be noted that the overall cost is not simply affordable for all families; however, many of them are willing to go under all the expenses, just to see their dear ones. Secondly, by this way, the students will be only able to meet their parents, and won’t be able to visit their siblings and relatives during those 4-7 years. Similar to other countries’ civilians, we do care about our relatives, and in my perspective, it’s a quality embedded in human nature.

Besides missing a time with relatives and dear ones, a student who holds a single-entry visa cannot travel to other countries as well, whenever there is an international conference in which he/she has submitted a paper, an academic gathering, or a volunteer opportunity outside US.

All in all, I truly believe that Iranian students who are engaged in so many helpful projects, are not of any threat to any country’s safety. I believe the key is to distinguish between a country’s government and its people, since the latter is not always necessarily a representative of the former’s ideologies and decrees; to see individuals separately, based on their own beliefs and merits. All the discussed hardships could be avoided if Iranian students could obtain multi-entry visa for a certain amount of time, and then be able to apply for another visa after the previous one’s expiration.

At last, I reaffirm that all the complications of Iranian students’ visa status are understandable, and I only would like to ask you sincerely to reconsider this matter, if possible. I have attached an initial list of signatures of those who are in support of this petition. I will keep the petiton webpage open to attract more support from people during the upcoming months. I will take full responsibility of this letter and the proposed issues.

Sincerely yours,

Best of best,

Ashkan Ghanbarzadeh Dagheyan

PhD student, Northeastern University

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