AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Couple cannot join family in US for event

Mr Alireza Javadian and his wife Nazanin Saeidi in Iran in March last year. The couple, who are living in Singapore, had to cancel plans to join their relatives in the US next month to celebrate the Persian New Year.
Mr Alireza Javadian and his wife Nazanin Saeidi in Iran in March last year. The couple, who are living in Singapore, had to cancel plans to join their relatives in the US next month to celebrate the Persian New Year.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MR ALIREZA JAVADIAN

Iranian researcher Alireza Javadian, 32, and his wife had been looking forward to celebrating the Persian New Year with his relatives, whom they have not seen for three years, in the United States next month.

But a few days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US on Jan 27, the couple were told by the US Embassy that they were currently not allowed to book a visa appointment to get permission to travel to the country.

"We had no choice but to cancel the trip because you should apply for a visa at least three months earlier," said Mr Javadian.

His wife, Ms Nazanin Saeidi, 31, is also an Iranian citizen and a research fellow at the National University of Singapore's civil and environmental engineering department. They had wanted to apply for visas for a two-week trip to the US late next month, which is the period when the Persian New Year is celebrated.

The one bright spot for the couple is that most of their accommodation and flights to Los Angeles, California - which had already been booked - were refundable and they had to pay fees only amounting to less than $100.

Mr Javadian, who has been living here for 10 years, is not sure if his relatives will be able to travel to Singapore to visit him.

While US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had said that those with dual citizenship from the seven targeted nations will be allowed to enter the US on the passport of a non-restricted nation, his aunt and uncle who hold dual Iranian and American citizenship are still uncertain about the situation.

"The officials don't really know what is happening, what can be done and the information is unclear. Everyone is in a dilemma and doesn't know if he can leave the US. It's better to take precautions - imagine what could happen if you can't go back to your family."

Mr Javadian is not optimistic about the chances of the ban being lifted and is upset at how the policy has disrupted normal life for Iranians.

"(People like us) just want to see our families. It may also send the wrong signal to other countries and affect our chances of being granted entry to these countries, even if it is only on a tourist visa."

Yuen Sin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 05, 2017, with the headline 'Couple cannot join family in US for event'. Print Edition | Subscribe