Ryan Costello, Policy Director with the National Iranian American Council, applauded today’s State Department rule change that waives immigrant visa fees for those unjustly barred from securing a visa due to the Trump administration’s discriminatory Muslim Ban. This was a recommendation that NIAC urged the State Department to adopt after the rescission of the Muslim Ban last year:
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“We commend the Biden administration for taking this important step to address the damage of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban by waiving immigrant visa reapplication fees for people who were denied entry under the policy. For Iranians who must travel outside the country to secure visa appointments at significant cost – and in some cases spent life savings in the hopes of securing a visa only to be rejected under the ban – this is a small but important step to repair harms and foster greater exchange.
“When Biden took office, one of his first acts was terminating the Muslim Ban, which he called a ‘stain on our national conscience.’ However, the pain and challenges the prior administration inflicted on countless families, including Iranian-American families, were not fully resolved at the stroke of Biden’s pen. It will take a great deal of work to reunite families and ensure such a ban can never be imposed again. Today, this small but important step will help repair some of the ongoing damage and demonstrate that discriminatory policies must be an aberration rather than normalized.
“NIAC has continued to work with both the Biden administration and Congress to fully eliminate the effects of the ban and to encourage further action, including a surge in visa processing, waiving fees for nonimmigrant visa applicants and reimbursing travel expenses. Moreover, it is vital for the Senate to follow the House in passing legislation to restore the opportunity to secure a visa for individuals who were selected for Diversity Visas but blocked by the Muslim Ban.”