How the travel ban affects Iranian graduate students at UMass Amherst

The travel ban left Iranian students and others from the six temporarily banned countries stuck.

President Trump’s executive order banned people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from traveling to and from the United States for 90 days. It also banned refugees from coming into the states for 120 days.

Since then, the order has been reversed by a federal judge in Washington on Saturday February 4.

“Just imagine, if you’re a PhD student, if you’re a master’s student, if you have worked hard for your degree. And just think about it, at the moment you get a phone call, there’s an emergency back home. Something may have happened to your mom, something may have happened to your dad. Maybe for other members of our community, the first thing on their mind is to get back home as soon as possible. But for Iranian students and other students from the other six countries, the first thing though, will be, ‘What do I do?'” says Mohammad, a PhD student at UMass Amherst who has lived in the United States for six years.

Many Iranian graduate students are set to graduate as soon as this February. Trump’s executive order halted immigrant application processes, like the OPT – Optional Practical Training – which would allow foreign students with F1 visas to work for 12 months under a US employer.

“I [will] graduate this February. I cannot work on campus. I have no income. I have to pay rent. I have medication that I have to take everyday. This is not fair for us. We came here for the best, not for this. This is not the America I came to. If it’s changing this much, I’m going to go back [to Iran,]” says one PhD student who studied computer science at UMass Amherst.

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