PAAIA and Iranian American Coalition Works with Senators to Seek Clarification of the Travel Ban “Waiver” Process

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Morad Ghorban
Email: Morad@paaia.org
Phone: (202)-828-8370

Washington, DC Today Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sent a bipartisan letter to the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to seek clarification on the “waiver provisions” outlined in President Trump’s latest Travel Ban.  This letter comes after the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), Pars Equality Center, and their legal counsels discussed the issue with Senator Van Hollen’s office.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the stay on the Travel Ban, the coalition partners and our attorneys received numerous reports that long-pending visa applications are being denied to Iranian nationals, that waivers are being almost uniformly denied, and that Embassies and Consulates responsible for processing visas for individuals from the listed countries are implementing the “waiver” programs differently.  According to information collected by the coalition, the State Department has only granted two waivers to Iranian visa seekers since the decision.

“The administration has not offered any definitive guidance on the waiver program,” states the letter.  “It leaves unanswered critical questions, including what constitutes an ‘undue hardship,’ what criteria will determine whether a waiver is ‘in the national interest,’ and how a consular or CBP [Customs and Border Protection] officer will determine whether a foreign national poses a threat. Furthermore, in the absence of this guidance, we have received reports of the near uniform denial of waivers for visas.”

The purpose of the Senate letter is to seek an explanation on how the waivers are being processed.  It requests that the administration provide information on the criteria, policies and procedures for the waivers authorized under the travel order and guidance on the process for requesting a waiver.  The letter follows an initial inquiry to the State Department made by PAAIA and its coalition partners.

PAAIA, IABA, and Pars Equality Center thank Senators Van Hollen and Flake for their leadership on this important issue. We are awaiting responses from the State Department and DHS and hope to meet with appropriate representatives to discuss the issue more in-depth.

ABOUT PAAIA: The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization that represents the interests of the Iranian American community before U.S. policymakers, opinion makers, and the American public at large.  We are committed to protecting the civil liberties of Iranian Americans.

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