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Stanford Report, September 11, 2002

As a result of longer background checks, Iranian students effectively kept from traveling

About 40 Iranian nationals study at Stanford. Even before last year's terrorist attacks, Persian students jumped through hoops to come to the United States because Iran is on the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism. With no official diplomatic ties between the two countries, students must go to U.S. consulates in Turkey or Dubai to undergo mandatory background checks while applying for single-entry visas.

Since last September, traveling abroad for students already here has become all but impossible, according to one Iranian student who asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted in the future. The time it takes for carrying out background checks has increased from one to three months, during which applicants must remain outside the United States. "Being a graduate student, I can't take off two to three months," the student says. As a result, Iranians have canceled trips home or to academic conferences abroad.

Another side effect appears to be an increase in visa rejections for new Iranian students. "I know of two cases where this happened, but we don't know if it's related" to increasing restrictions, the student says. "We are also very concerned about security -- we don't want it compromised," he adds. Despite the U.S. government's stance toward Iranian visitors, the student says he has not experienced any changes in his life at Stanford. "I spend almost all of my time here," he says. "The campus is a highly intellectual place. I haven't been mistreated at all."

--Lisa Trei