US Visa Waiver Program Changes

BBC Journalist Rana Rahimpour Says She Was Denied Entrance Into U.S. Due To Dual British-Iranian Nationality

A BBC journalist has taken to Twitter to express her outrage after she was denied admittance onto a plane bound for New Jersey due to her British-Iranian dual nationality. The journalist says her “fully British” daughter was unable to attend her American cousin’s birthday party simply because her mother was born in Iran. The outraged journalist noted that just days after the Iran nuclear sanctions were lifted, she was denied a U.S. visa waiver simply because she was born in Iran.

The Daily Mail reports that BBC journalist Rana Rahimpour was shocked when she was denied boarding onto a plane destined for New Jersey from Heathrow airport due to new U.S. policies on visa waivers. In the past, Rahimpour could travel to the U.S. under a visa waiver program that allows certain dual nationals to enter the U.S. for 90 days without a visa. However, new visa program waiver rules, anyone who was born in or who has traveled to a known “terrorist haven” is excluded from the program. Therefore, since Rahimpour was born in Iran, a designated terrorist haven, she is no longer allowed to utilize the program. Instead, each time she comes to the United States she will need to obtain a visa. Therefore, when she planned her trip to visit her American relatives, she would have needed to apply for a visa prior to the trip, something she would not have been required to do in the past.

Rahimpour says that she and two other British citizens were denied access to the New Jersey bound plane due to these new regulations.

On her post to Twitter, Rahimpour says that her “fully British” daughter was denied the ability to see her American cousin due to the fact that her mother was born in Iran which she indicates is unfair.

While some suggest that Rahimpour should have checked the visa requirements before planning her trip, she notes that she was told that new regulations would not be in place until April. However, she says that ESTA informed her they were beginning the new regulations now.

Rahimpour says that she has attempted to get visa approval through the ESTA but has not been approved. She claims that she applied for the visa on Friday, but her application is still noted as “pending.”

Rana says that she feels the new regulations are unfair and that many people born in Iran are facing similar problems despite having been away from the country for decades. The BBC journalist noted that two of her cousins also had difficulty traveling, despite having left Iran 20 years ago and never returning.

“I just feel it’s unfair, it’s unfair to many Iranians. My cousins who were traveling with me and faced similar problems have left Iran 20 years ago, they don’t know how to write or read Farsi and they are paying the price for the politics of a country that they have nothing to do with.”

What do you think about the new visa restrictions noting that individuals born in countries such as Iran and Syria would be exempt from visa waiver programs even if they have dual nationality?

[Image via Shutterstock/TheaDesign]