An Australian teen was denied a visa to the United States on Monday to attend a space camp trip with his high school class. The 15-year-old teen, Pouya Ghadirian, is an Australian citizen, but he holds a dual Australian-Iranian passport. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the teen from Melbourne applied for a U.S. visa a couple of weeks ago, but was ultimately denied by the U.S. Consulate office because his parents are from Iran.
Iran is one of the seven countries from which President Trump recently banned visitors to the U.S. BBC News shared that Trump’s executive order banning travel into the U.S. from the seven “Muslim-majority countries” is only good for 90 days, but the Australian teen was supposed to take the trip with his high school in March. Pouya called the space camp trip a “dream trip” to the U.S., and his Melbourne High School classmates will be visiting Washington, Orlando, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
In a live video interview on Monday, the Australian teen shared how he had applied for a U.S. visa a couple of weeks ago, with an interview at the U.S. Consulate on Monday morning. The teen goes on to say that as soon as the consulate officers found out he had a valid Iranian passport, he was told that the interview could not continue. The reason given for his visa being denied was a “presidential proclamation,” but according to the Australian teen, the people at the consulate office were apologetic when saying that “realistically” he wouldn’t be making the trip.
“They said it was the first time it had happened in an Australian embassy.”
“I cried at the consulate, and I don’t normally.”
Apparently, the Australian teen’s parents were just as upset, saying that they’ve had no criminal records, and they’ve done nothing wrong, even though they are originally from Iran, which is one of the seven countries named as countries of particular concern. According to the new executive order, “foreign-born individuals,” from these seven countries who have entered the U.S. on either a visa or as a refugee in the last 15 years have been responsible for “numerous” crimes related to terrorism.
The Australian teen who was denied a visa to the U.S. was born in Australia, but he was born to Iranian parents. Just the fact that he holds a valid Iranian passport excludes him from being granted a U.S. visa. The Independent reported on Tuesday that the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, claimed the teen’s visa denial had to be a mistake, adding that “Australian dual nationals should not be affected by the highly controversial ban of residents from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.”
However, the Australian teen says he won’t know for sure if he’ll be able to attend the space camp trip to the U.S. with his classmates until after another visit to the U.S. Consulate office, but added that he hasn’t heard any new news from the U.S. Consulate despite Prime Minister Turnbull’s announcement on Tuesday that Australian citizens who hold dual citizenship will, in fact, still be able to travel to the U.S.
Another report in the Sydney Morning Herald says that Mr. Turnbull received confirmation from the White House on Tuesday that says Australian passport holders will be able to “travel to and from the United States” and won’t be affected by the recent executive order, even if they do hold dual citizenship to one of the seven banned countries. Turnbull went on to say that it was an “important assurance” from the White House, even though the exemption for Australian dual nationals had not yet been implemented.
Allegedly, over 100,000 Australian citizens currently hold dual citizenship to one of the seven banned countries from the Middle East and Greater Middle East, which include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The Australian teen whose U.S. visa was denied says that he can’t believe Iran was added to the list because “a lot of successful Iranian people in the United States that have contributed to the economy and made America what it is.”
Mashable reports that Prime Minister Turnbull said the Australian teen’s visa to the U.S. might be reconsidered, in “light of the assurance that has been given today.”
Supporters of the Australian teen say that the U.S. space program has brought “humanity’s best and brightest” to the United States for decades, and the new travel and immigration ban has “tarnished” America’s name on the “global stage.” However, others add that it’s just a temporary ban intended to make America safe again, even though research allegedly suggests otherwise, according to the Washington Post.
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