United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

U.S. Issues Iran Travel Warning

            On December 7, the State Department warned that U.S. citizens may be subject to “harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran.” Dual national Iranian-Americans could face additional obstacles because Tehran does not recognize their American citizenship. The following is an excerpt from the travel warning.

            The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Iran.  Dual national Iranian-American citizens may encounter difficulty in departing Iran.  U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and carefully consider nonessential travel.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Iran issued April 27, 2012 to add additional contact information for the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran.

            Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States.  As a result, U.S. citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran.  Since 2009, Iranian authorities have prevented the departure, in some cases for several months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens, including journalists and academics, who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons. Iranian authorities also have unjustly detained or imprisoned U.S. citizens on various charges, including espionage and posing a threat to national security.  U.S. citizens of Iranian origin should consider the risk of being targeted by authorities before planning travel to Iran.  Iranian authorities deny the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran access to imprisoned dual national Iranian-American citizens because Iranian authorities consider them to be solely Iranian citizens; access to U.S. citizens is often denied as well.
 
            The Iranian government continues to repress some minority religious and ethnic groups, including Baha'i, Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and others.  Consequently, some areas within the country where these minorities reside, including the Baluchistan border area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kurdish northwest of the country, and areas near the Iraqi border, remain unsafe. Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens of Iranian origin.  Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, as well as persons who encourage Muslims to convert, are subject to arrest and prosecution.
 

            The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran.  The Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran.  The range of consular services provided by the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy is limited and may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. Embassies or Consulates. The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship and will not allow the Swiss to provide protective services for U.S. citizens who are also Iranian nationals.

           

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