The United States has announced a new visa policy that will facilitate the ability of Iranian students and exchange visitors to study and research in the United States, and will allow Iran's young people to better interact with the rest of the world.
Previously, Iranians in these visa categories were only eligible for visas that were valid for three months and could be used to enter the United States just one time.
Students and exchange visitors would have to reapply for a new visa if they left the United States. As a result, many chose not to leave the country for the duration of their studies, not even to visit family back home in an emergency.
Now, qualified Iranians are eligible for two-year, multiple-entry visas in certain categories. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the new policy as a significant step forward in U.S. support of the Iranian people:
"I've heard from many Iranian students and Iranian Americans that you wanted this change. So I want you to know that we are listening to your concerns. We want more dialogue and more exchange with those of you who are shaping Iran's future."
Instead of fostering its youth and providing them with opportunity, the Iranian government has brutally cracked down on all those who have peacefully asserted their rights to free speech, free assembly, and the free exchange of ideas: many students have been beaten, brutalized, barred from their studies, and in some cases, murdered. Entire faculties are being closed to promising students, and students from Iran's Baha'i community have been systematically blocked from even earning a university education.
In announcing the change to U.S. visa validity for Iranian students and exchange visitors, Secretary Clinton made a promise to them: "As long as the Iranian government continues to stifle your potential, we will stand with you. We will support your aspirations, and your rights. And we will continue to look for new ways to fuel more opportunities for real change in Iran."