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Come on down
Easing restrictions on U.S. visas for Iranians

By Frederick R. Troncone
June 23, 1999
The Iranian

On April 26, 1999, U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control issued a new regulation which clears the path for U.S. employers to sponsor Iranians resident in Iran for employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant visas. This is welcome news to both U.S. sponsors and to targeted Iranian beneficiaries living in Iran who have been unable to process for U.S. visas since July 29, 1997.

More specifically, beginning April 26, 1999, U.S. employers are again authorized to file necessary immigrant and/or non-immigrant visa petitions for professional and skilled workers who are currently resident in the Iran. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service will now process the necessary filings for Iranian workers coming out of Iran in the same manner as they process workers coming from other countries around the world.

The exception to this resumption of normalcy in immigration processing for Iranians applies to U.S. businesses which are either owned by the government of Iran or U.S. businesses whose current ownership can be traced back to Iran.

The U.S. does not maintain an embassy post in Iran. All U.S. interests are handled through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, and they do not have authority to issue U.S. visas. Therefore, until U.S.-Iranian relations improve to the next level, Iranians resident in Iran must continue to process for their immigrant based visas through U.S. consulates in Turkey (Istanbul and Ankara), or in the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi or Dubai).

While in theory it is possible for Iranians resident in Iran to file for non-immigrant visas at any U.S. consulate, most non-immigrant visa applicants should plan on processing in Turkey or in the UAE because it is difficult for Iranians to obtain an entry visa for many countries (even for the specific purpose of applying for a U.S. visa).

Regarding cases that were suspended by the U.S. consulates due to the affect of the U.S. trade sanctions on or after July 29,1987, based upon a recent exchange of communications with respective visa chiefs in Turkey and UAE, the clear message is that affected businesses and/or worker beneficiaries must bring their cases to the attention of the U.S. consulate in order to restart the visa issuance process.

Also, given the passage of time after the INS' approval of the underlying visa petition, we were further advised that it may be necessary in some cases to update certain data/or documents in order to resume processing and bring the matter to a successful conclusion.

Frederick R. Troncone is an American immigration lawyer and member of the Iranian Trade Association. He he paid a ten-day visit to Iran this month. TO TOP

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