Another Misfire by NIAC


Another Misfire by NIAC
by bahmani

Originally posted on //

Today I received the following message from NIAC announcing that the Obama Administration has decided to allow Iranian Students attending US universities with Student Visas, that wish to go back and forth from the US to Iran, can now do so with an easier re-entry process.

Until now, an Iranian student from Iran, that had been granted a Student Visa allowing them to enter and study in the US, could not go back home for visits. If they did they would have to re-apply for a whole new Student Visa to come back to the US.

Given the realities and tension between US and Iran, this is not a bad thing. Although the number of Iranian Students who can afford to leave Iran and come to the US, is few indeed.

Fewer are the ones who can keep their noses clean politically in Iran, in order to be allowed to leave to study in the US. You'd almost have to be an apparatchik in Iran's nepotistic system, or have an uncle connected somewhere high up in the system, just to be able to get an Exit Visa in order to leave Iran, and to come to a US embassy somewhere in the gulf and apply for a Student Visa.

Yes, in order to leave Iran, you actually need an Exit Visa. That's a process where you have to explain why you want to leave your homeland to study abroad. Why on earth would you want to study in the US, an even harder argument to make.

But once you get your Exit Visa, and get yourself out of Iran, and manage to find a US Embassy that will allow you to apply for a Student Visa, and after sending you away a couple of times, then finally giving in and granting your Student Visa to the US, and you come to the US, and enroll in the US college of your dreams, now, thanks to NIAC you can risk it all and go back and forth to visit.

If you think that the grueling process of getting the hell out of an oppressive Iran with your life, and the hope you have built up in actually realizing a hopeful future for yourself away from the horrors Iran has imprinted on you, and now NIAC wants you to be able to go back, is a bit naive, I think.

While I think it's always nice to be able to go back home, once you leave to go to college, everyone knows, you really can't go back home. Even more so when your home is Iran, it's literally on fire, and your country is being slowly drained of the blood of your peers.

Right! The first thing any Iranian Student lucky enough to win the lottery ticket out, is to want to go back! This is the valiant battle NIAC told me today, that they fought in my name for, and won. Even congratulating me on their job well done.

My recent posts have been trying to challenge NIAC to lobby Iran to change instead of the US. To me there is far more wrong there, and much more that is broken in Iran, that needs changing, than what is merely a reasonable US reaction to Iran's many dangerous stances, and irresponsible precarious posturing. Given the US's proclivity to using force in settling arguments of late.

Here's the letter (see my comments inserted)

Dear Bruce,
Imagine not being able to go to your sister’s wedding or your father’s funeral without jeopardizing your education.

Imagine a free Iran in which this wouldn't even be an issue.

Although it’s hard to believe, these were the circumstances faced by Iranian students studying in America.

It's not hard to believe at all, it actually makes total sense given the government of Iran has labeled Iran a "bad" country.

Their visas did not allow them to travel back home to see family or to go abroad for professional development without risking their ability to finish their studies and graduate.

That's because the risks of "couriers" going back and forth to a terrorist state post 911 makes sense to regulate or prohibit.

They were forced to choose between their family and their future.

Temporarily. According to every study the reasons for an Iranian student coming to the US, is to either get away from the political oppression in Iran, or to get a US degree in order to be able to get a better job when you go back to Iran. Either way, this is obviously an internal Iranian socio-economic problem, not a US Student Visa problem. Ignoring this, ignores real problems in Iran that won't go away after an Iranian Student successfully completes the degree and stays in the US, or if they ever go back.

Until now.

By raising the issue on Capitol Hill and with the White House, working with student groups and by rallying Iranian Americans across the country, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) aimed to change this policy.

Sorry to hear that, if you had asked me, I would have told you not to waste your time and instead go after the source of the real problem which is Iran'sinternal policies that make staying in Iran unbearable, dangerous, and pointless for Iranian Students, who value hope and the future. You wasted your time, the number of Iranian Students isn't big enough to worry about, and I doubt many of them really want to go back and forth and risk the odd Airport security not liking the breadth of their smile as they try and get on the US-bound plane to come back.

And today, the Obama administration made a landmark decision to fix this problem. As a result of our longstanding efforts, the State Department called to inform us that they will now issue multiple-entry visas for Iranian students.

That's not all they said, they also said, "...the United States is easing visa terms for Iranian students here as part of efforts to support their aspirations for political change back home... We want more dialogue and more exchange with those of you who are shaping Iran's future. Because as long as the Iranian government continues to stifle your potential, we will stand with you. We will support your aspirations, and your rights,... And we will continue to
look for new ways to fuel more opportunities for real change in Iran."

That sounds a lot like a Quid Pro Quo or you scratch my back, and I'll let you in and out with an eased Visa program. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but by making this statement, Iran now has to be suspicious of a flood of students coming back to Iran from the US. And as we know, not all Students are Students. I expect the grilling and long interrogations and FaceBook and blogging cross checking at the airport in Tehran, to increase.

By working with Congress and the Administration, we helped the voices of students be heard at the highest levels.

Again, you could have talked about SO much more than Iranian Student Visas. I can understand picking your battles and trying to establish a track record of small victories, but it's been 30 years. Everyone knows what's wrong, what Iran needs to do and be, especially you NIAC, and to avoid the obvious in favor of the least important issue to fight for is my question.

Our efforts paid off, and now, Iranian students may travel freely and have the same rights as the thousands of other young people from around the world who come to America to study.

Bravo! Now let's count the ones that choose to do so on our fingers. Meanwhile Iran burns, political prisoners hang daily, and even though we know this, we'll all just sit on our hands and say and do nothing.

By ensuring that more Iranian students to have the opportunity to experience American life, education and culture, we have increased their chances - as well as ours - for a brighter future.

Except you're not doing that. You are not doing anything to increase the number of Student Visas that the US issues, or making the application and review and re-application and re-review process any bit easier. Worse, you aren't even addressing the process of getting an exit Visa from Iran. which is the starting point of this relatively pointless

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.

Yes, by all means congratulations are in order. Yea! Hear! Hear! And a Hip Hip Hurrah! even. Iran's still oppressed though.

Thank you.

No, Thank You. You're certainly not doing what I want you to do, but in the end you're doing
something generally positive, and deserve thanks just the same.

Trita Parsi, PhD



more from bahmani

This was fair and balanced.

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

It Highlighted the inconsistencies and did not criticise the success, just the lack of success it really represents in the context of the reality. 

It reminds me of the story of the boy picking up star fish off the beach and throwing them back into the ocean to save their lives.  So as he saves a thousand star fish he can do nothing to save the hundred thousand that the ocean is throwing back on to the beach. 

He knows he made a difference for the few star fish that he saved, yet in this metaphor he should have focussed on fixing the problem on the other side, by placing a net in the ocean. 

And then there's the part that no one feels comfortable discussing because he did make a positive difference for the star fish, the boy was actually given a school assignment to be working to promote the well being of dolphin.  Who ultimately he didn't work for their interest at all.

I really don't know who NIAC is an agent of, what I know is that Regime Change in Iran, the goal of the majority of Iranian Americans, has not been it's primary aim.  All NIAC's energies need to be focussed on activities which support that vision, by encouraging and empowering the people of Iran.




In reply to bavafa

by bahmani on

You keep saying there is no exit visa requirement, then elaborate on your knowledge of the details of the exit visa process.

I agree, I'm saying too that there is an exit visa process. I don't care about non-students. My article is about the student visa ban.

My point is that Iran cracking down on the existing exit visa process, makes how much easier it is to get in and out of the US, moot.

Thanks for saying that Iranians students with a record can't leave. That's my other point. To push for a policy that rewards only the clean-nosed students, to be able to come out to the US, abandons the ones who really deserve it.

I guess we agree, but will continue to argue with each other anyway. Which is fine. We are Iranians after all, some of the few on this planet that actually enjoy wrestling. :)


In reply to Sepehr

by bahmani on

I have been told on good authority, that I am not going to have as easy a time getting into Iran, as you suggest. My pieces have been a bit harsh at times when I get angry at unjustified executions and the treatment by the government thugs (Shit! There I did it again!)

As a dissident writer of sorts, I am not exactly well liked, even and especially when I call for reforming the entire Iranian system of governance.

Some people get a little concerned when I say shit like that. I'm no danger, all I want is change for Iran. If that costs amnesty and political immunity, I'm all for it. As long as Iran changes, I don't harbor any ill-will or witch hunting.

I think that is a big difference between me and other anti-government commentators.


Hi Bruce, why do you think

by Sepehr on

Hi Bruce, why do you think what you stated: 

"For example, neither you, nor I, as a result of this conversation, are today "free" to go to Iran. If both of us showed up at the Tehran airport, we would both be interrogated vigorously, and based on our reaction to the intense scrutiny, might not even get past customs to meet our dear old Uncles and Aunts waiting with carts for their soghatees."

I really don't think this would happen. This conversation doesn't seem to be something that you would be interrogated for.  This stuff on is small peanuts to them.  I really don't think they care.  It's not like you wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times.




In reply to Bahmani

by Bavafa on

Spelling maybe an issue but comprehension I highly doubt.

For some folks admitting they are wrong is like pulling teeth, you seem to fall in that category Mr. Bahmani.

Your claim for an exit visa is both ingenuous and wrong

Allow me to elaborate:

Here is your statement, I am not putting words in your mouth…seriously

"Yes, in order to leave Iran, you actually need an Exit Visa. That's a process where you have to explain why you want to leave your homeland to study abroad. Why on earth would you want to study in the US, an even harder argument to make"

It implies that any one wishing to leave Iran need an exit visa which is false. Your lack of acknowledgment despite much provided information does make it ingenuous at best.

As I said (and please read this part carefully) to my knowledge only those male adult who have not served their required military obligation require special permit (i.e exit visa) to leave the country. This has nothing to do for being a student or being a pro regime or anti-regime.

The anti regime students get an automatic visa to Evin prison, not an exit visa to go abroad for study. The pro regime student probably get a paid trip to go and do what they do.

As for the rest of your statements, I am not going to bother to reply to as those are only your words, your perception and not mine, not by a long shot. Again, your lack of genuine intention does not compel me to engage further.

But I do say this…

You will gather more support (at least from me) by avoiding false information, a more sincere approach and setting up good examples.



In reply to bavafa

by bahmani on

So it seems to be comprehension (and the proper spelling of Exit, not Exist). Allow me to clarify.

My claims that Iran requires an exit visa for Iranian students to leave is not ingenuous (gullible) or false. You just stated it is not false.

Please read this next sentence clearly, I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but if you are saying what I think you are saying then you you are saying that it is easy-peasey-japanesey to get an exit visa, and I will again argue, no it isn't. Especially if you are a student that may or may not have attended one of the Moussavi rallies or worse, was arrested on the streets during any of the protests.

Deny this, and you are also saying (again I don't mean to put words in your mouth clarify if you disagree with your own words) that only those students in Iran who did not protest the election fiasco should be allowed to leave Iran easily. Anyone else must be subjected to severe scrutiny.

If you stand by this, then you are also saying that no one should object to that. I am saying NIAC should object to it, just as loudly and juts as methodically as they do to the US government when it strays from the path or reason and acceptable policy.

I know it's not part of the US-mission. I understand this requires to NIAC to be a different kind of organization. I am saying , that I think out of all the groups we have in the US, NIAC is MOST BEST SUITED FOR THE JOB, and should alter and modify it's mission to engage Iran just the same way that it engages the US government.

Peacefully, respectfully, but with perseverance and patient resolve.

Get it? I'm not attacking NIAC. I'm not a NIAC hater. I am a NIAC supporter with a recommendation.

As far as I'm concerned, everything NIAC does is good, I just wish they would do more of it with Iran.

And yes, I am totally fine with NIAC working with Iran directly. In fact I highly encourage it!


Mr. Bahamni: Your information regarding "Exist Visa"

by Bavafa on

At best is disingenuous, mostly false information.

Yes, any male person above the age of 16 who has not served its military duty requires an "exit visa" for ANY reason that he needs to leave the country whether as a student, pleasure or medical. Other then that, there is no requirement beside paying the required dues. This requirement existed during Shah regime as well.

I could not leave the country when I had just turned 16 only by two months. But after service, in the 6-8 times that I have gone back in the last 25+ years, I have not needed any "exit visa" nor any of my family members, parents of my friends and relatives that have visited US.

regarding your second reply:

I don't claim to have the best comprehension

But it is possible that is harder to comprehend you by your over use of "sarcasm, cynicism, anger and occasional ridicule".

The lack of comprehension may not solely belong to me though, perhaps if you would understand/agree/comprehend that NIAC is primarily an organization/lobby group in US and therefore it can only directly influence US policies, and only indirectly influence IRI.

To expect a direct influence over IRI, it will require them to work with IRI which I believe hardly any of us would like or appreciate this.

Do you want NIAC to work with IRI directly?

Lastly, don't you think for an intelligent person such as yourself, would be far more effective to use your method and skills within NIAC as a member or even an organizer to shape its direction and priorities better then just writing here which has at least got 'just a nagging' tone to it. Do you believe you have had much influence with your steadfast blogs here in reshaping their effort?

You will gather more support (at least from me) by avoiding false information, a more sincere approach and setting up examples for

- fighting IRI

- helping Iranians both inside and outside of Iran



In reply to bavafa

by bahmani on

Amazing you don't seem to understand that post. Your English seems to be good enough, but your comprehension is way off, dude.

Again, I'm not against NIAC fixing the visa ban, I just want them to work on both sides of the equation! Solve for x and y.

I think working on just the US side is the far easier choice, and I am suggesting that you CANNOT work on just one side of any issue relating to US-Iran.

I am cynically calling NIAC out, on the weakness of this approach, and challenging them to put in the same effort with Iran.

Do you honestly think by fixing the flaws in the US, that the (far bigger) flaws in Iran get fixed too? I don't.

I think it is the height of self deluded naivete and denial, to think that.

I'm trying to wake NIAC out of the "Fix the US, Fix the US, Fix the US", ADD coma they seem to be in.

I'm trying sarcasm, cynicism, anger, and occasional ridicule to do this, only because it seems to get everyone's attention. I'll gladly stop if any other ways work better.


In Reply to Afsaneh: Hafez for beginners

by bahmani on

I hadn't considered that, but since you brought it up, Iranian Students aren't Iranian-Americans, so technically there's another problem with NIAC's choice of focus.

Being according to James D. only 4700 in number, makes this an even smaller constituency that NIAC has decided to serve with it's efforts.

Again, I am not against Iranian Students going back home repeatedly if they are on student visas in the US. I am saying that NIAC needs to work on both sides, not just fix the US visa problem and then ignore what happens to an Iranian student coming back to Iran from the US.

As we have seen with Iran's recent spy catching, Iranians coming home from the US to Iran will no doubt have much more scrutiny.

I want NIAC to address that with the government of Iran just as directly as they do with the US government. Being able to freely come and go to Iran is an Iranian-American issue.

For example, neither you, nor I, as a result of this conversation, are today "free" to go to Iran. If both of us showed up at the Tehran airport, we would both be interrogated vigorously, and based on our reaction to the intense scrutiny, might not even get past customs to meet our dear old Uncles and Aunts waiting with carts for their soghatees.

Instead we will quite likely get personal tours of the Evin valley, and/or other parts of Iran.


reply to James D.

by bahmani on

if that's the number (I think it is more) it's not a big enough issue if there are only 450,000 Iranians in the US.

I don't mean to be cruel, but an Iranian-American community organization working for a miniscule minority who aren't even Iranian-American, now asks a wholly different question than the one I am asking.

Don't get me wrong, Iranian students should be allowed to come and go if they are on a student visa, nothing against that, my point is that there equal an in most cases far worse consequences of coming and going on the Iranian side, that NIAC can, but hasn't addressed.

I want them to do both.


In reply to bavafa

by bahmani on

Yes, you need to get an exit visa to leave Iran. You cannot simply get up and go. Yes, you are free to try. But whether it is simple and easy or hard and difficult, you do need the Iranian government's permission to leave Iran today. Especially if you are a student.

Yes, when I left Iran in 1979, I had to get one. Especially grueling since I had not yet done my required military service.

The fact that there is a process to leave Iran and given the facts that the majority of Iranian processes including getting permission to leave Iran and an Exit Visa is shall we say very very very ripe with corruption (do you deny this? Do you suggest that most Iranian government employees are mostly honest or a little bit honest?). Either way the process is made much much much easier with connections.

That does not make all Iranians students who come to the US to study spies, but it does make it harder for the dissident types, or the protest movement green types. Which is supposedly the whole point behind the lifting of the ban.

I'm just asking how this is supposed to help if what happens on the Iranian side isn't being fixed as well? I am asking NIAC to work on both sides, not just this side. I just think it's more realistic and less deluded to work on both sides than just think by fixing one US side, things will get better on the Iranian side.

Recent news from Iran with the arrest of accused US spies has included that the US spies offered Iranians Student Visas and educational opportunities in the US, in exchange for information and services.

Does this bode well for Iran's security concerns? Do they fear the US may be giving visas to Iranians in return for spying favors? It seems that with these arrest and the claims Iran has made, that they do.

So again, here's my question and point. What is NIAC going to do about the easing the fears and perception Iran now has, that the US easing visas for Iranian students to go back and forth and back and forth, and back and forth, easier, is totally fine and OK and Iran should go along with it.

Because according to the recent news, they don't.

If Iran now (reasonable if the accused turn out to really be US spies) makes it more difficult for Iranian Students to come and leave Iran (even with a US re-entry visa) willy-nilly, than what pray tell was the good of NIAC working again, only one easy to work side of an inherently bi-polar issue.

That's what I'm asking.


No problem Anahid Jaan.

by Bavafa on

And if I am wrong about "exit visa" would surely appreciate if any one can correct me. I don't claim to know it all, but have never hear of such thing as "exit visa"

Afsaneh Khanoom,

The very same point, NIAC being an Iranian-American organization and to protect Iranian-American interest ** has been made previously in yet another NIAC bashing blog from him but if fell on deaf ears. Mr. Bahmani lack of interest in an honest discussion place a shadow of doubt in his sincerity to help Iranians but only to try to defame/discredit NIAC which begs the question about his motives.

Here in this blog, Mr. Bahmani states that "I'm not against the U S visa correction...."

And agrees some thing needs to be done, but perhaps NOT if NIAC helps to accomplish the very same thing that he is NOT against.

** //

Simply amazing….



Misfire?! Hardly...

by Disenchanted on


      I think the removal of the visa restrictions is a positive development. I personally know many students that had difficulty going back to visit their families in Iran, not to mention all the costs of having to go to a third country for visa.

     I also have not heard of the "exit" visa yet!

      Lets pay credit where it's due! 



Hafez for Beginners

an "American" Council

by Hafez for Beginners on

Bruce: Thank you for sharing your views. I don't agree with many of them, and wanted to point to the one view I especially find to be a misplaced demand: For NIAC to pressure for change in policies in Iran, rather than policies in the US. 

Surely it's not rocket science to recognize that  NIAC - stands for National Iranian-American Council.  "American" being the operative word there. It's an American council focussed on people with Iranian heritage. By definition, it deals with US issues pertaining to Iran, and not the other way around. 

This is what Iranians do. We find a fish, and we ask it to walk. We are so obsessed with our own agenda, that we don't care how silly our demand sounds. And what happens? We never make any gains! The fish doesn't walk, and we get angrier and angrier. 



hey bruce

by Simorgh5555 on

Good on you to tackle the NIAC and exposing their stupidity. It is a shame you were not principled enough to avoid associating yourself with the NIAC golden boy Reza Aslan.

Anahid Hojjati

Thanks Bavafa jan for your comment.

by Anahid Hojjati on

Dear Bavafa, as I mentioned, I left years ago and it looks like you have more recent knowledge. Thanks.

Where James D. says that there are students who have not seen their families for 9 years, this is really surprising. Almost all Iranian students who come to United States come for masters or PhD degree. I don't know of these kind of studenst being student for 9 years. It seems farfetched where James D writes:"I know people who haven't seen their parents in 9 years because of the single entry visa issue. "

James D.

Go tell that to the students

by James D. on

Tell the 4,700 students in the United States who haven't seen their families in years that this isn't important. I know people who haven't seen their parents in 9 years because of the single entry visa issue. Tell the students who never saw their parents one last time that this issue isn't important.  

It's one thing not to care about this accomplishment; it's quite another to ridicule it.

I think the word I'm looking for is "disguisting". Go do something positive.


Anahid Jaan: My brother left Iran

by Bavafa on

My brother left Iran about 5 years ago and I was involved as his sponsor. Since, he has brought his entire family here and my dad just arrived about two weeks ago for a vist.  None required to get any exit visa or any other permission, but to pay (khorojee) just a fee that is required to pay each time you leave the country.

Myself left Iran with a student visa from Germany, only after finishing my service and there was no restriction as where I could go beside Egypt or few other countries.

So, I believe the "misfire" here belongs to Mr. Bahmani himself.


Anahid Hojjati

Dear Bavafa, some of us had to be creative when we left

by Anahid Hojjati on

I don't remember if it were called Exit Visa but there was something since I remember telling them that I was leaving to visit relatives but then I went to Germany and got student Visa. I did not leave as student. So Bahmani has got something right, he might be using wrong terminology. Best people to comment on this issue are those who have had to leave Iran recently , mine was years ago.

Soosan Khanoom

here Anahid

by Soosan Khanoom on


Exit visa!!!!! What's that?

by Bavafa on

Has Mr. Bahmani written this for the American audience who do not know of how things work in Iran and some still think we ride 'Shotor' to work each day?

As far as I know, once you are done with your military service you are free to leave the country, there is a fee to exit but that is not an "exit visa". There are of course restrictions for those who have not finished their military service.

Furthermore, are we to believe that all those who leave Iran to go abroad, US specifically, are IRI sympathizer or even worse agents?

If any of the notions in this blog is true, then how did WE who now enjoy this freedom in the West to write what ever we like, true or untrue, got out of Iran?

Going by his own account, did Mr. Bahmani flee the country? Otherwise he must have got an exit visa which means he is a IRI sympathizer or worse an agent :)


Anahid Hojjati

Soosan jan, I found it in record time

by Anahid Hojjati on

Even though "Fred" has many blogs, but I rmembered the title, so I found it. You are welcome Soosan jan, but isn't jan better than Banoo?

Also it is good for students to visit Iran but realistically, not too many students go back for visits in middle of their studies.  For the minority who go, it is good. However, don't Iranians have higher priorities? what about freeing Nasrin Sotoodeh, Hengameh Shaheedi and many other political prisoners? I know that MM wrote that NIAC can be political only 20%. But freeing political prisoners is really important, much more than students visiting Iran in middle of their studies.

Soosan Khanoom

it was the one from couple

by Soosan Khanoom on

it was the one from couple days ago ...... a fred's  blog in which sam sam got himself into arguments  with other replies not mine or yours ......

Never mind !

Anahid Hojjati

Soosan jan

by Anahid Hojjati on

Which other blog you are writing about? My only other comment this morning was on the blog titled "title" and I just checked. It is still open to me. If you want evidence, I can go there and leave another comment titled "to Soosan jan".  You might have upset JJ so he closed it to you. Or is there another blog that you are talking about? 

Soosan Khanoom

Dear Anahid

by Soosan Khanoom on

This is a great thing that has happened to Iranian- American community for a long time.  Those who suffered years of separation from their parents and loved ones should really be the ones who cheer for this not vise versa ..... We want others do not suffer as much as the older generation did ....  

But as I mentioned in other blog unfortunately the new law does not cover those who are already in the U.S ..... but still it is better than nothing .


PS..  Thanks for your kind reply to the " Bano " subject on the other blog ..... I tried to express my appreciation short after but JJ closed it to any further replies .  so I thank you now dear Anahid : ) 

Anahid Hojjati

It is really a minor issue this multiple entry

by Anahid Hojjati on

Many people when they leave Iran to go for study abroad, if they have a sound mind, they are happy to be out. They will not miss the country because IRI is such an oppressive regime. They should be focused on their studies. Besides going back to Iran costs thousands of dollars. How can these students afford to go back for anthing less than an emergency? Besides is the blood of this generation redder than our generation? In our generation, many of us could not go back. I see people all the time telling me that they never saw their parents for 5, 6, 8 years. This is really a minor issue and NIAC should focus on bigger ones.


well done Bruce

by mahmoudg on

We should do all to expose this farse organization for what it is, an agent of the Islamic Rapists in the US.

Darius Kadivar

Fair and Balanced Counter Arguments !

by Darius Kadivar on

Good One Bruce !