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.”

Meet Our Summer Interns: Karina Bakhshi-Azar

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.09.29 AM“My name is Karina Bakhshi-Azar and I am a rising senior at Virginia Tech’s honors college majoring in both political science and public relations. I’m a first generation American with an Iranian father and Norwegian mother. I intend to pursue a career in law dealing with human rights violations in the Middle East with a specialization in women and children’s rights. 
 
I became interested in NIAC after hearing about their Iranian related foreign policy and outreach work through a family friend. After the 9/11 attacks I became very aware of my Iranian heritage and how that made me different. I was very young when these attacks happened and thus the Islamophobic rhetoric that was targeted at me because of it made me want to distance myself from my Iranian roots. It wasn’t until I became older and realized the ignorance of these comments that I began to fully embrace my Iranian side just as much as my American and Norwegian sides. Today I am an advocate for increased understanding between Iranians and Americans and a great promoter of increased peace in the Middle East, something that NIAC fights for everyday.”
 
Apply for NIAC’s Fall internship here.

UM Amherst

NIAC Applauds UMass Policy Reversal

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

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) welcomes the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s decision today to reverse its policy to ban Iranian students from certain fields and looks forward to learning more about its new approach. NIAC President Trita Parsi released the following statement:

“Sanctions have caused many problems, but they are not an excuse to discriminate against Iranian students. UMass has done the right thing to correct its mistake and we look forward to learning full details about how its new policy will ensure Iranian students are not discriminated against.

“We sympathize with the burdens that the sanctions have imposed on academic institutions and hope that eventually these measures are lifted.  Broad sanctions have punished many unintended victims but today’s action ensures that further pain will not be passed onto young Iranians who aspire to study in American universities.

“NIAC congratulates the UMass students and faculty who successfully raised objections to this policy and appreciates the efforts of the State Department and Treasury Department for working with the school directly to address this issue.

“NIAC has worked to resolve the impact of sanctions on Iranian students many times in the past, including when TOEFL tests were suspended for Iranians, online courses were restricted for people inside Iran, and in the effort to secure multiple-entry student visa privileges for Iranians. We are pleased to have played a role in ensuring this latest problem was addressed.

“Ultimately, these issues will not go away until broad sanctions are lifted. We hope that diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran can succeed in eventually achieving this. In the meantime, we will continue to work to prevent sanctions from punishing ordinary Iranians and Iranian Americans.”

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