Visa Ban: Devil in the Details

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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