The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), an anti-Iran-sanctions lobby group, is reporting that the Senate will soon enable multiple-entry visas for Iranian passport holders (they are limited to single-entry visas now).
That the Senate would do this without demanding parity is unfortunate, and that NIAC would not advocate parity is also telling. It would be more productive if the White House, Senate, and State Department would do the following:
1. Tie any visa regime to the one offered by Iranians to U.S. passport holders. If the Islamic Republic won’t grant multiple-entry visas on U.S. passports, why should we do so on Iranian passports?
2. Create parity between the number of visas we grant Iranian passport holders and the number of visas they grant U.S. passport holders. At the height of the Dialogue of Civilizations, we granted Iranian passport holders approximately 22,000 visas; the Islamic Republic granted U.S. passport holders only around 800 visas.
3. Many Iranian students are legitimate; some may not be. In the past, state sponsors of terrorism have provided intelligence agents with student cover. Do we really want to undercut the control that visa interviews provide?
The Senate and State Department should be looking out first and foremost for the interests of American citizens. That they do not do so is a sad testament to the priorities of U.S. politicians and diplomats.