The following is a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
I am very pleased to announce a big step forward in the Obama Administration’s support of the Iranian people.
Under our old visa policy, Iranian students and exchange visitors were eligible for visas that lasted for only three months and could be used to enter the country just one time. As of today, that has changed. They are now eligible for two-year, multiple entry visas.
This gives young Iranians the opportunity to return home for family events, to participate in internships, to travel outside the United States—and they won’t need to get a new visa every time.
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. We want to be able to share what we think is great about America.
Because 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. Thank you.
A video message is available here:
A Farsi version is available here:
Specific Changes to Visa Validity for Iranian Student Applicants
As of May 20, 2011, qualified Iranian applicants for visas in the F, J, and M categories for non-sensitive, non-technical fields of study and research and their dependents will be eligible to receive two-year, multiple-entry visas. This is an increase in the current visa validity of three months, single entry.
This change will allow Iranian students and exchange visitors to travel more easily, furthering our goal of promoting the free flow of information and ideas. This important decision is being taken as the global community witnesses the Iranian Government’s increasing censorship and isolation of its own people.
Iranians currently in the United States on a three-month, single-entry visa in one of these categories must reapply outside the United States at a consular post in order to obtain two-year, multiple-entry visas. Keep in mind that the validity of a visa refers to the time period the visa holder has to enter the U.S. It has no bearing on the length of stay permitted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the port of entry. Iranian students and exchange visitors in good standing in the United States do not need to apply for a new visa until after they depart the United States.