I felt goose bumps rise on my skin when I became informed about the news regarding President Trump’s travel ban. Getting the U.S. visa has never been easy for Iranian citizens. Since there is no American embassy in Iran, all Iranians need to travel to other countries to have a visa interview and for visa pickup. Many of them are required to wait for clearance, which means a background check. Even though I initially had a multiple-entry F1 visa for two years, it expired when I was in the third year of my Ph.D. program.
That was the time my mom passed away. Since I had no valid visa, I could not attend my dear mom’s funeral and see her for the last time. It was because the visa processes (both the United States and the country with availability of U.S. embassy) would take so long that I would not be able to be attend my classes and would lose the whole semester. I could finally visit my family and my dad in summer and renewed the F1 visa for two more years. My dad is 76 years old and has many health-related issues; he was hospitalized twice in January. Doctors were performing an angioplasty on him, when they had to stop the procedure because he could not tolerate it and had to go through CPR.
I had the plan to go visit even for a week but now with this new law — and even though I have a valid F1 visa — I cannot take the risk, since gaining my Ph.D. degree has been my parents’ dream. I am scared of losing him without being able to see him either.
I cannot focus on my studies and I am just following the news.
I am a doctoral student in Binghamton University, who came to the United States on an F1 visa. I have been working on my dissertation project proposal for the past two years and now I need to travel to Iran to conduct field work for my research. Field work and archival research are essential parts of dissertation-writing in my discipline. Due to the recent travel ban, affecting seven countries including Iran, I am not able to conduct my fieldwork and work on the project that I had so much intellectually and emotionally invested in.
I have worked so hard to be where I am now in my education and now everything that I had foreseen as my research and career path is not realizable. However, my story is not as terrifying and painful as many stories that I have been hearing these days.
To read other accounts of how the travel ban affects students and professors at Binghamton University, please follow these links (updated 2/11):