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US Bans Trade And Investment Visas For Iranians

A USA Visa Label in a Passport, undated. Courtesy of US Virtual Embassy in Iran. FILE PHOTO

Iranian nationals will no longer be eligible for E-1 and E-2 trade and investment visas, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS) announced on Wednesday, January 22.

The decision is directly linked with the October 3, 2018 termination of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights with Iran,

Tehran and Washington signed the treaty on August 15, 1955 and registered by the United Nations on December 20, 1957.

Article 23 gives a timeline for ratification of the treaty and allows for its cancellation by either party after ten years "by giving one year's written notice."

E-1 and E-2 Visas are non-immigrant visas available to citizens from countries that maintain a friendship treaty or a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The U.S. Department of State holds a list of treaty countries, and the nationals of certain countries may be eligible for either E-1 or E-2 visa status, or both.

E-1 Visa has a 5-year duration and may be renewed indefinitely as long as the described requirements, as to the nationality of the company and international trade, are still being met. The initial period of stay is a maximum of 2 years. The stay may be automatically extended for periods of up to 2 years by departing and returning to the United States.

Recipients of the E-1 visas may be followed by their family members, i.e., spouses or underage children and spouses might apply for U.S. work permits.

E-2 visas allow a national of a treaty country (treaty investor) to work and reside in the United States upon a substantial investment of capital in a United States business enterprise.

Given that "E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant visas are based on trade and investment treaties or specific legislation providing for reciprocal treatment of the respective countries' nationals," USCIS said, "the existence of a qualifying treaty or authorizing legislation is, therefore, a threshold requirement for issuing an E visa."

Based on the new US regulations, Iranians carrying E1 and E2 visas should leave the country immediately after their visas expire or apply for other types of visas.

The Trump administration had earlier set restrictions for the Islamic Republic diplomats traveling to the U.S.

On October 3, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had announced that the United States was pulling out of the six-decade-old treaty with Iran that had provided a basis for normalizing relations between the two countries, including diplomatic and economic exchanges.

The announcement came hours after the International Court of Justice ordered the United States to ensure that a new round of American sanctions imposed against Tehran did not prevent food, medicine, and aircraft parts from reaching Iran.

During proceedings at the tribunal, Iran had argued that the 1955 friendship treaty was breached by sanctions the U.S. imposed on Iran in 2018. The U.S. immediately reacted by announcing its withdrawal from the accord.

The secretary of state insisted that the U.S. had always planned to leave humanitarian exceptions to sanctions intact. However, Pompeo maintained that either way, the international court did not have the power to dictate the makeup of U.S. sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Referring to Washington's continued disputes with Tehran, Pompeo said that the decision to terminate the treaty was one that was "frankly--- 39 years overdue."