Can I go? Can I come back?

I wish we can set aside the political problems and look at the humanitarian aspect


Can I go? Can I come back?
by Glareh Azadi

This is a letter I wrote to the U.S. Department of State, to see if any one can help me. I got an automatic response from them, saying that all the information is available on the website and this is the only reply I would ever receive from them.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I visited your website and noticed a message from President Bush:

"America is not a fortress; no, we never want to be a fortress. We're a free country; we're an open society. And we must always protect the rights of our law -- of law-abiding citizens from around the world who come here to conduct business or to study or to spend time with their family."

I am sure that you believe in this massage and hope you consider my tragic situation. I know you receive tons of  emails each day and you may be very busy at the moment to continue reading my email. But, I hope you take a few minutes and read this email to the end. Your time is greatly appreciated.

I am an Iranian woman, perusing my Ph.D at Brown University. I came to this country 7 years a go hoping for a better education and future which was denied to me in my home country.

I came to US in 2002. After two years of hard work I was accepted in Chemical Engineering program at the University of New Hampshire(UNH) with full funding. I graduated with highest honor( ranked number 1) in 2008. During the duration of my study I never went back home to visit my family because I was so concerned I may never get a visa to come back to finish my education. You may know how difficult it is, as a woman, to live in Iran.

I accepted as a Ph.D candidate in Engineering program at Brown university with a full fellowship for the duration of my studies. I was very pleased with my achievements and with my whole heart believed that United States is indeed, "the land of opportunities".

Not long a go, my mother, whom I have not seen for 7 years was diagnosed with cancer. I was devastated hearing the news but again, did not go back to Iran hoping and praying that through chemotherapy she can overcome it. However, it was not the case and her health deteriorated quickly. I was informed that the doctors have stopped the treatment because nothing can be done. Given the fact that I may never see her, I decided to go back home before it is too late.

You know the sever visa condition for Iranian citizens.  I wish we can set aside the political problems and look at the humanitarian aspect of the case. After all, we are all human beings regardless of our country of birth. The classes at Brown will start next week, I hope there is a way for me to go back home and see my dear mom for the last time and be able to come back here and continue with my education. It would be really difficult to go through the grief of her loss knowing that I could have seen her for the last time.

Is there any way you can help me in facilitating the visa process?

Again, I sincerely appreciate your time.

Glareh Azadi



It seems like you have been

by kz (not verified) on

It seems like you have been very ignorant of the Special Visa situation for Iranians. Not everyone has to go through this process. Certainly among the International Ph.D., students that fill the US, French ones do not have to wait for 3 months to get a visa to come back. For your information, when a super bright Iranian student with a golden resume and a Ph.D admission from the best Universities of the US goes to the US embassy for F1 student Visa he/she will receive a 2 months single entrance visa (If they are lucky to get it in the first place). Indian students however, will receive a multi entrance visa for the duration of their studies!!!! So you see, not quite ever one goes through the same process. At least she is courage enough to fight this injustice though it may seem worthless and desperate to you.


Well, don't be surprise

by Blunt (not verified) on

Dear Glareh,

I am sorry that your respond from INS was a surprise to you. I wonder why? USA is filled with international Ph.D. students with full financial support, Iranian millionaires and to your surprise every one has to go through same visa issues.
Visa problems are very normal around the world, it is not going to be different for you. May be you think because of your situation it should have been different, well, you have not been around long enough then, cause if you were you would have known better than this.
While you are wasting your time and energy getting congresswomen !!! (*why in the world? she doesn't even have power over INS*) to pay attention to your case and while you are trying to change Visa rules by protesting!!!, you might take a minute and make things straight in your head and heart.
You might go back to Iran and your mom's situation get worst and you get stock for longer time,Or you might not want to risk your Ph.D. and make other choices and live with the consequences. It's up to you. No one cares but you. Yes, some Iranian dude say ah sorry poor you good you bad usa, but at the end, no one is there for you but you.
Yes, USA is the land of opportunities, but you have to pay the price for it. You don't want to risk your PhD, I totally understand! Everyone does!!! If you don't want to go back, don't go, but just because Condoleezza Rice didn't delivered your Visa don't get discourage. good luck.


Dear Glareh

by stranger (not verified) on

I read your notes and I am sorry to hear about Mom. I also want to congratulate you for getting your education to the level you deserve. I know it is impossible not to go back to see your mother and it is hard not to regret it later if you hesitate. I hope you are prepare for any possible outcomes. In my opinion, you will probably not get stuck in Iran due to Visa issues, you might have to stay longer than what you plan though but you can get visa eventually. I say this because recently two of my friends went to Iran for summer with same visa issue and managed to get back after 2 to 3 months. One of them who has not been back for the passed 5 years was late for his classes but he did come back and said that the whole thing worth it. I hope you can go, see your mom, feel better and come back start your school and move on with your life. Be prepared and stay strong. It is not an easy time for you but you can make it. I hold you my best wishes.


dear Glareh My sincere

by maz2 (not verified) on

dear Glareh

My sincere advice to you is: go and be with your mom as long as you can, Mom is not here for ever, but the rest comes and go.

Be prepared for the worst, and take notes of good advices from other readers, and follow their sincere recommendation.

In this line, lets me ask the readers if anybody has not seen his/her mom for long, because he/she could not travell to Iran ( becauseof Iran's policy) and their thought, soloution

good luck to all

bajenaghe naghi

glareh jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

i think other friends here have given you very good advise so i will not repeat these. i just want to say that i am sorry for what your mom you and your family are going through. your mom and you will be in my prayers. and as mr. bush's statement in the net they are all pretty words like makeup used to hide all the ugliness that they are intended to cover. god bless you.


No ties to your home country?

by Glareh (not verified) on

I have talked to a congresswoman about the issue. She says now that you have not been back for 7 years, it is difficult to prove that you want to return to Iran after your studies. Now, my biggest worry is not getting it at all, let along the lengthy background check.

K Nassery

Do stop in Ankara on your trip, if you decide to go.

by K Nassery on

I think that advice from a poster is excellent.  Apply for the appointment at the US Embassy in Ankara before you leave the US on your trip...should you decide to go.  From start to finish, it took the Tehran Engineering students 4 months for the first time visas. They all all late for their semesters in the US Universities.

 I did talk to Duke University officials and our local University people about the issue and they told me that Universities will not get involved and they have no power to help.  They open the electronic file and the US government takes over the process. 

I don't think an immigration lawyer will be able to help secure those visas either.  I really researched the topic with people I am friends with in Senator Durbin's office.   The people who issue the visas from the Embassies have no power over the investigative process and the time delay relflects the time it takes to look at photos, international police information, finger prints, and other methods of investigation. 

Read the information at US State Dept. sites on the student visas.  It's cut and  dry and no one really can pull strings.  In a way, it's fairer that way.  All applicants get the same treatment even if it take a horrible amount of time.

 At least Iranian students get visas and scholarship in US Universities.  No Palestinian student was issued a visa.  Even those with scholarships have been turned away.  It was a reaction to threats from Hamas.  Let's hope this doesn't happen to Iranian students. 


Make an emotional presentation to immigration officer

by samsam1111 on


As Jamshid said..with letters & document..I would even have a picture of your beloved Mom to make it more humane for the officer to see. Good luck&God speed!


From a mothers perspective

by javaneh29 on

dear Glareh

I am so sorry for your predicament. Its a tough decision to have to make.

I dont know about the visa system in US but as a mother myself I can tell you that your mother would want what is best for your future. She knows you love her and she understands the problems you might face and Im sure she would not want you to risk your future if it looks likely you would not be able to return to the US. If you are unable to return, she will blame herself.

I dont know what to advise you. Only you can decide whether or not you want to take the risk but I know that your mother will be sayng 'dont come' and she will mean it.

god bless you both



F-1 visa

by Parham33 (not verified) on

Dear Gelareh,

Sorry to hear about your mom.
As far as your Visa concerns, non of the organizations inside US can help in this regards. As long as you are in a good standing status in your school, there should not be any issue in getting a new visa.
Some of my friends (PhD student) have traveled to Iran several times during last year and they got their F-1 visa with no problem. Their reason for travel was visiting their family and marriage. Even my friend’s wife got her visa (F-2) in a short time!!! It is really case dependent and I believe your case is very justified. So if I were you I would go and apply for a new I-20 and then set an appointment with US embassy in Turkey or Dubai or … and before going to Iran, go to the embassy and apply for a new visa. Since you have got visa once, there is no reason you don't get it for second time. Just make sure you have your current transcripts and letter from university explaining that you are in good academic standing and letter of financial support.

Best of luck


Glareh Jaan

by Dahatii (not verified) on

Glareh Jaan, I am so sorry for your situation, badbakhtane, taro khoshk baham misoozand. The Iran's government messes up, Iranian citizens like you have to pay the consequences. You should ask yourself which is more important, staying with your mom in her last days or missing a semester or two at college? Depending on your relationship with your mother, you are the only one that can finally make a decision, I am so sorry, Good luck to you.


Iranians at Stanford

by Glareh (not verified) on

Thanks K Nassry. I read the article about Stanford students. I think all Iranian students on visa should sign a petition. Together maybe we can change these laws.


K Nassery

It's very difficult right now.

by K Nassery on

I have a niece in a hotel in Ankara at this very moment.  She is waiting for the confirmed student visa to be mailed to the hotel and we expect her arrival next Wed. afternoon.  This was a first time student visa and it was 4 weeks late.  None of the students in her group got the visas in a timely fashion.  I believe that the investigation by the FBI and the State Dept. is delayed by the sheer volume of requests for clearance.

 The university will not and can not help you if you go home and there is a problem getting a reissused visa.  They US has to do a complete review of your file by law. 

 I googled the subject and Standford has a group of Persian students that are confronting the problem, but I doubt that our legislators are in the mood to care with the threats from Ayatollas that come from Iran daily. 

 I spoke to people in Senator Durbin's office in Springfield Illinois and they advised me not to ask for a speedy investigation.  All it takes is one US immigration agent to misplace a file and you are out of luck.  US Congressmen are afraid of Immigration employees. 

 There are examples on the net of students failing to finish their education because they couldn't come back to the US.  My daughter's classmate, a grad of Brown Med got married because she had visa problems and she was Philipina.

 It's a new world thanks to the bad guys and good people are stuck.  All Americans have to go through hell in airports and we have to have passports to visit Canada now.  Everyone is suffering, not just Iranians. 

 I'm so sorry for your personal struggle.



If I were you

by Amir Kabir after kisseh and now waiting for the liff saboon (not verified) on

I would not risk it. I asked them as a citizen of the US to allow my sister in-law to come for a few weeks to put to rest here dying sister and with my full affidavit of support, it was rejected in UAE for fear of her coming and staying!

The reason for all of these anguish, the reason they hold Iranians coming from Canda behind the border for hours and belittle them, it's all to make us hate our government, our system, our religion, our culture and most importantly one another.

This is the war of attrition against the Iranian entity, by all means, cultural, scientific and any other method possible. The mastermind behind all of these are the British and they advise the US government on how to contain the Iranians.

My opinion is this, Iranians should show resilience, show self respect, defy prejudice, fight back, rely on the alternative laws that are available in this country, but do not give in.

We are caught in the turmoil of war on natural resources and for as long as we have gas and oil, they will make sure that one way or another we are pre-occupied with the issues we have faced in the past 30 years.

If I were you I would not risk the trip if you have doubts. Just talk to your mom on the phone and extend the prayers. Don't become a hero.

Good luck


Not for Iranian

by Glareh (not verified) on

Dear Farokh, Yes, the student visa should work, and it does for other international students, but not for Iranians. I am legal in this country as long as I have a valid I-20. The visa is only valid for 3 month after it is first issued.



by Anonymous Farshad (not verified) on

I faced the same situation years ago. I decided to go and see my family. I was rejected a new visa, but then I made an appointment and appealed to the local american consul at the consulate and described my situation to him. He was so kind and issued me a new visa. Things maybe more difficult now as the state dept is involved. BTW, my school's international center said that they could not help me when I contacted them after my initial rejection.

I had all the paperwork, from school showing that I was a year away from graduation and was working on serious projects and in a very good academic standing. Nonetheless, I gave power of attorney to a close friend of mine to be able to liquidate my belongings and empty my apartment in case I could not get back.

On the hind sight, I am glad I went to see my family. But everyone's situation is different though. My suggestion: set your mind-set to be flexible in view of what comes next if you decide to go.

Oh, and a relative of mine from europe faced the same situation and went home but could not get a visa back to where he was studying. So either way is possible.


Student Visa should work here

by farokh2000 on

I thought if you were a University Student here you would have a valid Visa as long as you were still in school.

I think you should contact your school's International Student Office and get direction from them before you spend money on a Lawyer, that you might not even need.

I work at University here and have had that experience with International Students. We have always referred them to the International Students Office to advise them on these issues.

I am pretty sure you would get your Visa renewed since you are still in school.

Wishing you the best.


Dear Glareh, I think you

by jamshid on

Dear Glareh,

I think you should simply walk to an immigration office and explain your situation. Take a translated and notorized letter from your mother's doctor or hospital with you. Take several recommendation letters from your professors at your university expressing their high regards for you and their desire for you to complete your education.

I am sure they will give you a temporary permit to go to Iran and come back.

If that didn't work, then as Varjavand wrote, you'd need an immigration attorney.


Dear Glareh   Thanks

by varjavand on

Dear Glareh


Thanks for sharing your story. I am deeply saddened by it. Miracles do happen and I hope doctors can preserve the health of your mother.


My suggestion is that you seek assistance from the university officials, see what they say. You can also consult an immigration lawyer. If you don’t know any, let me know. I should be able to refer you to one.