January 27, 2016

Hear The Voices Of Visa Waiver Discrimination


Below are stories from Americans and Europeans whose lives have suddenly been altered by the new discriminatory visa law.

After the San Bernardino and Paris attacks, the United States decided to scapegoat Americans of Iranian, Syrian, Sudanese, and Iraqi heritage. Congress did this when they passed legislation that states people who have even visited those four countries should be subject to question, and be required to apply for visas when entering the United States. Visa laws are reciprocal – that means other countries respond to changes to our travel laws – which means Congress may have just inadvertently restricted Americans of Iranian, Syrian, Sudanese, and Iraqi heritage AND those who have traveled to those countries from traveling without a visa, like fellow Americans are free to do.

Don’t let discrimination dictate our country’s laws, and create second class citizens based on heritage. Take action: www.NoSecondClassCitizens.com

To share a story, tweet at our handle @NIACAction or email Elham Khatami ([email protected]).

Rana Rahimpour


“With three hours to go until take-off I finally got through to ESTA and was told our travel request has been denied because of our Iranian nationality.”

Rana Rahimpour,
British-Iranian Journalist for BBC News

Source: BBC

“At the end, she told me that because of my nationality and field of study, I was not eligible to travel to the United States under the normal visa guidelines and would have to wait six to eight weeks for additional processing… I told her I was scheduled to fly out the next day. She said that wasn’t going to be possible.”

Dr. Amin Shokrollahi,
Renowned German-Iranian Professtor at
École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne

Source: The Intercept

“No-one would argue the case for better security, but the State Department did say, people wanting to do legitimate travel to the US would not be affected by the changes to the VWP.

And whilst the changes have been presented as “travelers have a simply apply for a Visa,” it’s not that simple. It’s much more time consuming, it’s expensive, and who is approved or denied is left to the discretion of the consular officer – with no recourse to challenge any decision.”

Shahin Sarir,
Iranian-born Australian
Source: Emailed to NIAC


Thomas Erdbrink


“My wife Newsha Tavakolian, can no longer enter the U.S. with her EU passport: because [she’s] Iranian born.”

Thomas Erdbrink,
Journalist for The New York Times,
Reporting from Iran
Source: Politico


“I feel a sense of being different than my American peers, …I don’t think that’s right and that’s not what this country is built on and I fear that is what my daughters are going to feel as well.”

Mina Bagherzadeh,
Iranian American residing in Washington, D.C.
Source: NPR

Mahsa & Marjan
Mahsa & Marjan


“Due to HR 158, the new visa waiver program restrictions, Marjan Vahdat, one of the duo singers who has a European passport has been denied entry to US. She boarded the plane in Tehran and although she had an entry visa to US, she was stopped in Frankfurt airport and was denied boarding the plane coming to US.”

Marjan Vahdat,
Iranian Musician
Source: Central Stage & Hamyar Art Foundation



“The first time I heard of it was when I checked my email last Friday and it say I was no longer authorized to travel to the USA… I was angry and confused at that point. It is like a tax on your nationality.”

Yasamin Omoomian,
British-born, Half-Iranian
Source: Nottingham Post



“My son may not have the same opportunities as I did because of his heritage. That’s heartbreaking.”

Ali Partovi
Iranian American,
Code.org Founder

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

“If Europe reciprocates and says, ‘If our hyphenated Iranians will have to get a visa to come to the US, then American-hyphenated Iranians need to get a visa to come to Europe.’ […] Even people who weren’t planning to go Europe, or they haven’t gone to Europe let’s say for the last 20 to 30 years, are saying: ‘Why the hell us?’”

Dr. Firouz Naderi,
Iranian American, Senior Scientist at NASA
Source: The Guardian



“Our travel is being restricted, visas denied, rights erased. How did the Japanese feel between Pearl Harbor and the camps? What did the Jews tell themselves when rumors of segregation began? Hate brews slowly.”

Najva Sol,
Iranian-American Artist
Source: apracticalwedding.com

“The goal is that should another HR158 arise, here in the US or abroad, the voice of opposition will not only belong to Iranians, but it will be joined by a diverse set of informed citizens calling upon their elected representatives to stand against such ill informed policies.”

Negar Mortazavi,
Iranian-American Lawyer
Source: The Huffington Post

“I was born in this country and have spent my entire life here. I am a proud American; this is my home. Yet, based on our ancestry, this law discriminates against me and other Americans.”

Kourosh Kolahi,
Orthopedic Surgery Resident at UCSF-Fresno
Source: San Francisco Chronicle



“I also call upon my fellow Iranian Americans to step up to the plate. There is no doubt that Iranian Americans are some of the most successful entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, philanthropists and scientists in this country. All of this success is useless, however, if we remain complacent when it comes to civic participation.”

Yassamin Ansari,
Iranian American residing in New York City
Source: The Huffington Post

“Diversity and inclusion means diversity and inclusion for all – not just diversity and inclusion for Iranians who have not visited Iran after 2011. End of story.”

Gazalé Poorsoltan,
Iranian American residing in Atlanta, GA
Source: Emailed to NIAC



“We are not threats to the national security. We are simply Iranian-Americans who hold both passports proudly. We can’t choose sides. Could you choose only one of your parents?”

Iranian American residing in Tehran
Source: Humans of Tehran


Don’t let discrimination dictate our country’s laws.

Act: www.NoSecondClassCitizens.com

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