Commentary Magazine


Clinton Loosens Visa Policies for Iranians

Secretary of State Clinton has loosened visa restrictions for Iranians. While the United States has long welcomed young Iranians and should continue to do so, some Iranians complained that the lack of multiple entry visas was inconvenient. If Iranians wanted to study in the United States, they could not travel back-and-forth easily to the Islamic Republic to visit family and friends without then having to apply for a new visa.  While the secretary says that the new policy would apply only to those students studying in “non-sensitive, nontechnical fields,” the State Department often trusts universities to report students who might switch fields.

Some enterprising congressman might want to ask Clinton whether, as she eases these visa restrictions, she has formulated any plan to identify those pro-regime students in the United States whose reason to be here has less to do with intellectual enrichment and more to do with reporting on fellow Iranian students. Nevermind: At least the Secretary has made it easier for those students to take reports back home and deliver them orally rather than risk detection by communicating them by other means.

What’s most grating about this decision is not the lack of parity—Iran gives very few visas to Americans and doesn’t recognize the U.S. passports of Americans of Iranian descent—but rather that equally deserving students from allies do not get the same rights. In theory, for example, Afghan nationals can get multiple entry work visas but because of parity issues—the Afghans limit their visas to Americans—in practice, once Afghans get here, they’re stuck.

Once again, the Obama administration does what it does best: Ignore allies, both the Iranian students who seek to rescue Iran from a regime of misery, and students and enterprising youth from allied countries.