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Group Says Iranian Grad Students with Valid Visas are Being Kept Out of US

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DAVIS -- The National Iranian American Council says it has received over a dozen reports of Iranian students, with valid visas, being denied access to the U.S. for graduate school.

At least one of the students was trying to travel to California to attend UC Davis.

"They’ve packed their bags, they’ve said goodbye to their families. They’ve probably had a lot of financial strain, especially with the economic situation in Iran right now, to make this possible for themselves," Assal Rad, a research fellow at the National Iranian American Council, told FOX40. "And all of that has been stripped away."

Rad says the National Iranian American Council has received at least 16 reports of Iranian graduate students being denied entry into the United States. Each has a valid visa.

"These are students who have already gone through extreme vetting, and they’re still getting denied," Rad said.

Many students were trying to return to schools in the University of California system.

Rad says she has been calling on the State Department and Homeland Security to explain why this is happening, but hasn’t gotten any answers.

"If it's based on some kind of U.S. law then it should be transparent and we should know what that law is," Rad said.

When we reached out to the State department an official said visa records are confidential so they can’t discuss specific cases.

"International students are a priority for the Department of State, and we continue to welcome legitimate student visa applicants. Visas may be denied only on grounds set out in U.S. law. Visa applicants are continuously screened, both at the time of their application and afterwards, to ensure they remain eligible to travel to the United States," a statement from the State Department read.

But Rad says these graduate students deserve more transparency.

”They’re doing important, groundbreaking research," Rad said. They’re teaching in universities and the fact that they’re being denied entry raises a lot of questions that unfortunately we don’t have the answers to.”

The UC system would not comment on specific cases, but said it does everything it can to help international students:

"The University of California has a deep commitment to providing a world-class education to all of our international students, regardless of where they are born. Once they are accepted into our system, we do everything we can to support these students and to assist with their safe and timely arrival on campus."

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