NIAC Urges Universities to Extend Admission Deadlines for Iranian Students amidst Internet Shutdown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 21, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org 

Washington DC – President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement urging universities to extend application deadlines for Iranian nationals in light of the extended Internet shutdown imposed by the Iranian government:

“We ask all university administrators to extend deadlines as necessary to accommodate Iranian nationals seeking admission in light of recent turmoil in Iran. As documented by both human rights organizations and tech companies, the Iranian government has responded to protests with a brutal crackdown and effectively shut down the internet for six days, at the time of publication. Such circumstances render it impossible for Iranian nationals to take standardized tests (reports indicate the administration of tests have been canceled), secure transcripts and send in application materials in advance of forthcoming deadlines. Moreover, there is little clarity as to when the Internet and other basic functions will be restored. Prospective Iranian students should not be further harmed as a result of the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian government, and we encourage all university administrators to extend all possible accommodations to them.

“NIAC staff stands willing to discuss the situation on the ground with any administrators in order to underscore the importance of extending application deadlines for prospective students.”

NIAC Deeply Concerned by Flight Ban on Iranian Students

In response to recent reports that the Trump Administration is preventing Iranian students with visas from boarding their flights to the United States, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“The National Iranian American Council is deeply concerned by reports that a large number of Iranian students with visas were barred from boarding their flights at the last minute by the Trump administration. The students were fully vetted and set to study in the United States during the fall semester, and now have had their futures thrown into disarray with no explanation from either the State Department or Department of Homeland Security. 

“NIAC calls on the Trump Administration to provide a full and transparent accounting of what is behind these recent actions and whether a new policy has been put in place. NIAC is working with several of those impacted, as well as Congress, regarding these cases and inquiring with several branches of government. We will keep working to ensure that this and all bans imposed by the Trump administration on Iranian nationals are lifted once and for all.”

“The current iteration of Trump’s Muslim ban – which continues to unfairly discriminate against Iranian nationals – includes narrow exemptions for Iranian students to secure visas. However, many of those lucky enough to secure entry to American colleges and visas from the State Department now appear to have encountered a second ban that turned them back from the airport. The Trump administration owes it to the American people – which strongly opposes the Muslim ban – as well as to Congress and those impacted to fully detail the reason for its flight ban on Iranian students, the number of individuals impacted and to permit those who pose no security risk to travel to the United States to begin or resume their studies.”

Did you have a visa to study in the United States, but were turned away prior to boarding or upon entry to the United States? Fill out our form so that we can track the impact and help determine the cause of this change in government policy. We will keep all information confidential.

NIAC Congratulates Sharif University Students on 2019 AIAA Win

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 29, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement regarding travel and sanctions restrictions placed on Iranian students from Sharif University of Technology, who won the engine design competition at the 2019 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Propulsion and Energy Forum:

“We would like to commend the group of Sharif students who defied the odds to win an engine design competition at a prestigious AIAA forum, as well as to extend our apologies on behalf of our elected government for the ridiculous and offensive hurdles placed in these students’ way.

“This group of engineering students from Sharif University entered the AIAA competition only to have their entry into the U.S. denied due to President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban that denies visas for all Iranians with few, apparently arbitrary, exceptions. Undeterred, the group participated by video conference and managed to win the competition only to learn that they could not receive the cash prize for their program due to U.S. sanctions.

“These students are among Iran’s best and brightest, and U.S. policies should seek to empower them and allow humanity to benefit from their ingenuity. However, instead of celebrating their successes, these extraordinary students have been met with hurdles and indignities. This is a microcosm of the self-defeating and nonsensical treatment of Iranians by U.S. government policies. The Iranian people already have to deal with their own government’s deplorable human rights record, corruption, and other failings. Unfortunately, our American government often chooses to makes the situation worse. 

“NIAC reiterates its condemnation of the Trump administration’s unjust and xenophobic Muslim ban and the broad sanctions policies that are punishing ordinary Iranians. NIAC calls for an end to these destructive measures and for a U.S. approach towards Iran that prioritizes peace and engagement. We will continue our work to press for change and remain determined to remove barriers and instead build bridges between the American and Iranian people.”

UM Amherst

NIAC Concerned by University’s Exclusion of Iranian Students, Calls for Reversal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi 
Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – The  National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has learned that the University of Massachusetts Amherst will no longer admit Iranian nationals as students in certain engineering and science programs and will require all Iranian students to certify their compliance with certain sanctions. NIAC is deeply concerned by the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s action and calls on the University to reverse its decision. NIAC will be in contact with the school, relevant government agencies and Congress in the days ahead to see if we can find a resolution to this matter that does not disenfranchise Iranians.

“This is a major problem for UMass Amherst, which risks doing real damage to itself as an institution,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi. “It’s also a problem for the U.S. government, which only undermines American values and influence when it prevents universities from reaching out to young Iranians.”

The University’s actions constitute an overly broad interpretation its obligations under sanctions. Its decision is apparently in response to language included in a 2012 sanctions law that was strongly opposed by NIAC. In addition to organizing efforts to oppose that sanctions bill, NIAC was especially critical of the language in question pertaining to students and raised serious concerns with members of Congress and the Obama Administration as the bill moved forward. NIAC worked to try to remove and later to narrow the scope of the language. Once passed into law, NIAC called on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take action to shield students from the adverse effects of the language.

“Of all the people to hurt with sanctions, punishing students and undermining educational exchanges is a particularly damaging act,” said Parsi. “The people of Iran have positive views of the United States, and higher education is one of the best forums to foster important relationships with young Iranians that can help improve ties and even prevent conflicts.”

NIAC has consistently opposed broad sanctions legislation in Congress and worked prevent the negative effects such measures on ordinary Iranians and Iranian Americans. NIAC has advocated for increased contact between Americans and Iranians, including through educational exchanges and opportunities. NIAC worked to ensure Iranian students would be able to obtain multiple-entry visas, to defend Iranian students against banks who discriminated against them due to sanctions, and to ensure Iranian students were not blocked from proficiency exams necessary for them to study abroad. NIAC looks forward to playing a positive role to help find a solution to this new instance of sanctions hurting Iranian students.