Rana Rahimpour, a presenter at the BBC’s Persian service based in London, was stopped at Heathrow airport on Tuesday before catching a flight to New Jersey. US authorities told her she could no longer fly to the US under the visa waiver programme because of her Iranian citizenship.
It is an embarrassing episode for the US authorities that highlights the consequences of new legislation passed by the US Congress which means some dual nationals who could previously visit the US for 90 days without a visa must now obtain one. The measure punishes all Iranian dual nationals regardless of their affiliation to the Iranian government as well as British people or other European citizens who have travelled to #Iran in the past five years.
“Three days after lifting Iran sanctions, US denied Esta/visa waivers for me and another two British citizens [because] we have Iranian nationality too,” Rahimpour tweeted after being stopped.
She told the Guardian she was “devastated” because she was planning to see her brother after a year and half and was to attend a surprise birthday party. Rahimpour, 33, posted a photo of herself sobbing next to her two-year-old daughter, writing: “My fully British daughter can’t attend her American cousin’s birthday [because] her mum was born in Iran.”
A large number of Iranians are angry about the changes, which deprive them of the previously available visa waiver programme because of the place of their birth. The legislation also means a British national who has travelled to Iran over the past five years will no longer be able to visit the US without a visa.