President Donald Trump’s travel ban is currently barring three Iranian students from returning to UC Santa Barbara, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) confirmed Wednesday.
Navid Yousefian Jazi, a Ph.D. student who took a leave of absence in fall, is one of three who may not be able to return from Iran. He told the Nexus Monday that he fears he may not be able to finish his degree in political science.
Maryam Rasekh, a former UCSB researcher who was set to begin a Ph.D. program in electrical engineering, is also affected. According to her boyfriend, Hassan Arbabi, a researcher with UCSB’s mechanical engineering department, the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, approved her visa just hours before Trump’s executive order banned her entry last Friday.
OISS director Simran Singh said she could not reveal the identity of the third student for security reasons, but she confirmed the student is also from Iran and is currently on a leave of absence.
“We’re absolutely in touch with all them, giving them all the information we have and working closely with them,” Singh said.
Trump’s executive order, signed last Friday, bans the entry of all immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Iran for 90 days.
According to fall 2016 UC enrollment figures, there are a total of 40 international students at UCSB from the seven countries listed in the travel ban. One of these students is an undergraduate from Syria, two are undergraduates from Iran and the remaining 37 are graduate students from Iran.
According to Janet Afary, a professor of Iranian studies, there is “a great deal of anxiety” among graduate students at UCSB who cannot return to Iran in fear that their visas may not be renewed.
Leila Zonouzi, an Iranian student pursuing a Ph.D. in global studies, planned to wed her fiance this summer. She said her parents and in-laws are in Iran, but since the executive order halted immigration from that country, they are unable to fly to the U.S. for the wedding.
“I won’t be able to get married because, well, let’s face it, without our parents, who are we celebrating with?” she said.
Zonouzi said the travel ban also affects visas for her fiancé’s job and her academic career. Her fiancé, who is also Iranian with a visa expiring in a year, may not apply for an H-1 visa or a green card “if this continues.” Zonouzi has a two-year visa expiring in June 2018 while enrolled in a five- to seven-year program.
“With this rate of madness, I’m not actually sure I can extend it and be a Ph.D. candidate,” Zonouzi said.
Another UCSB student affected by the travel ban is Mahdi Golkaram, an Iranian mechanical engineering Ph.D. student who said he won’t be able to see his parents for years. His parents received their visas two weeks ago after applying at the U.S. embassy and undergoing a background check for nine months.
“Because of the executive order, they can’t come to the United States because anyone from Iran is banned from entering the United States using any passport visa,” Golkaram said.
The ban has also affected Golkaram’s job opportunities. He said he doesn’t know if he can apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) required for his internship placement this fall since the ban limits requests going through to the USCIS for Iranian people.
“A lot of companies that I have job offers for right now are contacting me and asking if I know what my visa and resident situation is going to be,” he said. “Even if the companies are fine with me, they will be anxious about whether or not I can accept the job offer.”
A Reddit user, posting as an Iranian-Canadian UCSB student on Saturday, said he or she was “sent back in Germany” while trying to reenter the U.S. after a trip to Tehran, Iran.
The Nexus confirmed that Yousefian Jazi and Rasekh did not post on Reddit. The Nexus has sent the Reddit user a private message each day since Saturday, but the user has not yet replied.
Kraig Rice, an immigration attorney with Juris Doctor California, said Iranian-Canadians would have been denied entry into the U.S on Friday and Saturday. The Trump administration announced Sunday that it would begin to allow entry to Canadian dual citizens.
The order originally barred all permanent residents and all visas except foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations and G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began allowing entry to green card holders on Sunday. Those with student visas, however, are still prohibited from entering the country, according to Abbe Kingston, an immigration attorney based in downtown Santa Barbara.
“The craziness is there are already people who have been vetted, have already been interviewed, some on airplanes,” Kingston said. “That’s the hysteria it’s created. No one really thought this plan through.”
In a press release Saturday, the UC Office of the President advised students from the seven countries listed in the executive order to not travel outside the United States. OISS recommends that all international students avoid travel outside the U.S.
A version of this story appeared on p. 1 of the Thursday, February 2, 2017 print edition of the Daily Nexus.