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UMass restrictions on Iranian students worrying: NIAC

14 February 2015 13:15

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The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has expressed deep concern over restrictions imposed on Iranian students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The university has decided to no longer admit Iranian nationals as students in certain engineering and science programs, claiming the move aims to avoid violating US sanctions against Iran.

The university announced it would no longer accept Iranian nationals into graduate programs in chemical, computer, and mechanical engineering as well as the natural sciences.

The university also requires all Iranian students certify their compliance with anti-Iran sanctions, explaining that the decision has been made based on a 2012 federal law, which declares Iranian citizens ineligible for US visas if they seek higher education in preparation for careers in Iran’s energy sector or any field related to nuclear power.

NIAC stance

However, the NIAC, which is a US-based organization, said it is up to the State Department and Homeland Security to enforce US sanctions polices, not the university.

The NGO has called on the UMass to reverse its decision.

In 2012, US Congress enacted a broad sanctions bill that excludes Iranian citizens from education in the United States if they plan to focus on energy related research in Iran.

No change in federal policy

A US State Department official said the department was aware of the UMass decision, adding there had been no changes in federal policy regarding Iranian students.

He said the department will contact UMass to discuss the decision and will answer any questions from other academic institutions about the law.

“All visa applications are reviewed individually in accordance with the requirements of the US Immigration and Nationality Act and other relevant laws that establish detailed standards for determining eligibility for visas and admission to the United States,” the official said in an e-mail.

He added that Washington does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals from educating in science and engineering and noted that each application is reviewed on a “case-by-case” basis.

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