Visa Ban: Devil in the Details


Visa Ban: Devil in the Details
by bahmani

No one was happier to see the recent announcement by NIAC that they had successfully lobbied for, and gotten the Obama administration to lift the VISA re-entry ban on Iranian students.

The thought that the 10,000 or so Iranian students attending university in the US, could now go home and do something about it, made me overall, happy. Still impatient for NIAC to go after Iran as well as the US, but overall, I'd say I was happy. And I'll take happy!

The proof that I have been claiming for years, that NIAC could do this exact same sort of lobbying and get Iran to change here and there, made me even more than positive.

But nothing is ever that easy though, today of course, a week after the Hip Hip Hurrah and up with NIAC people, announcements and congratulations that went round the net, we learn that once again, counting our joojehs before they hatch, is fraught with more red tape than applying for a US Student Visa.

Now, it turns out, in order to get a 2-year multiple entry visa, if you have a valid Student F, M or J visa, as long as your field of study is not in the sexier subjects, like how to make a nuclear bomb obviously, but a lesser detailed list of study that given Iranian students' penchant for sexy subjects, might prohibit more than a few from this new ban-lift. And before anyone forgets, it's a 2-year visa. The last time I checked it takes 4 years to finish school. This must only apply to genius or grad school Iranians. No problem, we got plenty of geniuses and grad students. We'll take it. Wrap it up please!

Worse, to get one of these sexy new 2-year visas, you have to get this, leave the US and apply for it from a US consulate office outside of the US. Hopefully this can be as easy as visiting all your cousins in VanCouver or Toronto and maybe you can enjoy one of the better than LA Persian restaurants while you wait. Or maybe a Tequila tasting trip to Me-Hee-Co (Mexico). Does Cancun have a US Consulate?

But there is no guarantee that you will get one of these sexy new 2-year multiple re-entry visas if you leave the US to get one.

If you have the right degree, that is from the right list, and you manage to leave the US, and you manage to get a multiple entry visa, and your parents wire you 1200 toman dollars to start making travel plans to go back home to visit all of your hot girlfriends in Iran, as a returning Iranian STUD-ent, there is a high likelihood that your arrival will be met with more than just your family and relatives.

A high likelihood. Given Iran's very real and even more recently realized fears of being infiltrated by foreign agents. Returning Iranian students from the very country that Iran fears being spied on the most, it is naive to assume, that this problem is in any way improved by just lifting the Visa ban on this end. Especially if the entire ad and PR campaign about what a great gift it is from the US to the Iranian people this is, and how it is specifically to achieve "...real change in Iran".

It is natural to assume that the students receiving this "gift" will need to have their facebook and twitter and blogging activities looked over with a bit more scrutiny than usual, by Iranian security officials. Because they simply have to.

NIAC's next goal appears to be trying to get the US to remove the much needed Airplane parts ban on civilian aircraft for Iran. Iran needs those parts because the Boeing and other American made planes and equipment are literally falling out of the sky. While this is a great project and I love it, let us be absolutely clear, this has nothing to do with Iranian-Americans and NIAC's mission. While Iranian-Americans who don't fly Emirates or Lufthansa, have the good chance of having to fly Iran-Air into Iran from Frankfurt, again, it's a pretty far stretch, as Iranian-American issues to take on, go.

But it is yet another prime example of my whole point, NIAC's amply demonstrated prowess to take on difficult challenges and win change.

I wonder if NIAC put it's mind to it, and worked with the Iranian government to give a little bit on their end, in order to make it easier for the US to give a little bit on this end, if they might not secure some concessions by Iran as well. And if everyone gives a little, and it works, and they see positive results, pretty soon they can give more, and more leads to even more, and good becomes better, and pretty soon you can contemplate, pretty damn great!

While I applaud NIAC for working so hard to fix the obvious Visa problem here in the US, I truly wish they would also work on fixing what's wrong over there, in Iran, with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm.

Because 1953 not-withstanding, it's not always just the fault of the US, and not all the problems between the US and Iran begin here. Both sides of the faucet are leaking. Stopping the few drips on the easy to fix end here in the US, does not stop the massive break that is flooding Iran on the other end.

Water (civil rights and all the other common sense violations) is still pouring out all over the place. And everyone is still getting soaked.

NIAC has shown itself to be a good little Dutch Boy, trying valiantly to plug one Visa Ban hole in the US-Iran dike. But there are many holes in the dike, and even the Dutch Boy had more than 1 finger.

I know that a lot of you would like to personally give Iran the finger they deserve, but hopefully NIAC's level head will prevail, and when they finally decide to listen to me, and get involved with Iran directly, something productive can happen.

For a real lasting CHANGE.


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by MM on

I understand your reasoning, but there is still a couple of issues that need some attention

1. Direct Talks - NIAC having direct talks with IRI is a sensitive issue that can be irreconcilable with some Iranian-Americans around here, or Iranians abroad.  As I said before, just look at the email from TP to IRI UN representative on behalf of the US-repsentatives that NIACers always put up as the evidence that NIAC is an IRI agent.

2. email-write-in Campaigns - There has to be changes to the way the email-campaigns to IRI are run by NIAC.  For example, firstly, if we write an email-write-in campaign to a US senator via NIAC, I get an email response from my senator on the issue.  However, many Iranian-Americans may not want to be identified as the ones second-guessing the IRI.  Secondly, I do not think that IRI will give a hoot about what we say, unless there are CCed-emails to the UN High Commision on Human Rights or some cooperation with the Amnesty International, etc.

Personally, I think that the email campaigns would be a more fruitful alternative.


Reply to MM

by bahmani on

I don't want NIAC to become a political party, I want NIAC to simply do exactly the same thing that it does to change US policy towards Iran, with Iran.

Same letter and email campaigns, same arguments for change, same emphasis and lobbying that it does so expertly and competently here, to the same counterparts in the Iranian government.

If we don't tell the Iranian government WHY something they do is wrong, then we haven't made the best effort to help Iran reform its bad ways and fix what's wrong and improve.

I know the common held belief is that this is screaming to the wind and Iran will ignore any attempts to change it's systems.

I know that.

And I would agree that we should not waste our time. IF we had EVER tried to talk to Iran in the way NIAC talks t the US. If we had done that and they ignored the same effort put into the requests NIAC makes to the US government, I would agree.

Until then, I cannot possibly say without a doubt that talking to Iran is pointless.

NO ONE like NIAC has ever done it! How do we know it wouldn't work? Until NIAC or someone better than NIAC tries to at least talk to Iran civilly, without giving up, I'm not about to put aside reason and negotiation, and write off Iran as a bunch of un-pragmatic fools not worthy of common decent discussion and debate.

I also know that for some who have lost dear ones to the government of Iran's human rights problems, talking civilly to executioners is a difficult thing to comprehend. I'm saying we have to suck it up and do that, in order to achieve change. We have to change, if we expect them to change.

Especially we have to change our approach. If NIAC is getting results and achieving change with it's tactics and strategy, I think if they shift their focus to Iran, they will achieve change there to.

At least I want to see them try, before I give up and sit back down and wait for Iran to fix itself over the next 30 years.



by MM on


Trita sent one (or more?) email on behalf of the US representatives who wanted TP to arrange a meeting between them and Iran's UN representative.  There, TP (as written in NIAC's site) made sure that he was clear about the US representatives' request, and the fact that he did not represent either side. Look at all the negative publicity he has recieved as an IRI agent, as well as being accused of being a CIA agent elsewhere.

How do you propose to overcome the negative publicity of NIAC's talks with the IRI representatives, assuming that IRI would want to talk with NIAC, of course?

NIAC has influence in DC as the representative of a small portion of the Iranian-Americans.  How do you propose to portray that influence thousands of miles away in a land where second-guessing the government is not allowed?

If your answer is for NIAC to become a political party, I do not believe so, since secularly motivated Iranian political parties are plenty around here while NIAC is in a unique position to protect the rights of Iranian-Americans living in the US with ca. 20% advocacy in policies/HR.

Maryam Hojjat

NIAC's Boss is IRR/IRI &

by Maryam Hojjat on

NIAC is reqired to listen to their order not Vis versa.