Saturday, 07 December, 2019

Discriminatory New Visa Law Keeps German-Iranian Professor Out of U.S.

On January 29, Dr. Amin Shokrollahi was planning to do something he had done many times before: take a flight from his home in Switzerland to the United States. Shokrollahi, a dual German-Iranian citizen, is a renowned mathematician, computer scientist, and a professor at the prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne. Once in the U.S., he was to deliver an address at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSC) in San Francisco.

Days before his flight, however, when Shokrollahi checked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s online website to confirm that his visa application was still in order, he received an unpleasant surprise. Due to a recent change to the Visa Waiver Program that targets dual citizens of Iran, Sudan, Iraq, and Syria, his permission to visit the United States had been changed to “not authorized.” Weeks before, the U.S. Congress had passed the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act,” a measure that effectively made European-Iranian dual citizens like Shokrollahi ineligible for visa-free travel to the United States.

“I had planned this trip a long time ago, and was preparing to give a talk on low-energy-consumption technology at the ISSC conference,” Shokrollahi said. “It’s very prestigious to be invited, and I had scheduled several meetings in the expectation that I’d be flying into America soon. I had heard that there were potential legal changes coming in the United States so had checked the website before I left, but I still didn’t know if it would affect me personally.”

The next business day, a concerned Shokrollahi went to the U.S. Embassy in the Swiss capital of Bern to try and speak with an American consular official. As a German passport holder, he had for years been entitled to the same rights of visa-free travel to the United States as his fellow citizens. After waiting three hours, he met with a consular official, who asked him questions about his personal background.

Source:The Intercept                                                                                                                                                     

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