Financial Tribune- Iran is not rejecting visa applications by American nationals and there has been no change in the number of inbound tourists from the US, according to the head of Iranian Tour Operators’ Association.
Last week, the US State Department issued a travel warning advising Americans against visiting Iran, claiming that dual Iranian-American nationals are persecuted.
It added that it had “received reports” that Iran is denying visas to Americans in response to an executive order by US President Donald Trump restricting travel to the US for Iranians and five other Muslim-majority countries.
“US citizens should very carefully weigh the risks of and consider postponing planned travel to Iran,” the statement read.
However, according to Ebrahim Pourfaraj, the US State Department’s claims are false.
“Despite the US threatening us and taking steps that are in breach of the spirit of JCPOA, Iran has not and will never respond by targeting American tourists,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the landmark nuclear deal Iran signed with six major world powers two years ago.
“Visa requests submitted by American travel companies have not been denied. Every application is thoroughly reviewed by the Foreign Ministry and so far this year every application has been approved,” Pourfaraj added.
US citizens remain one of the smallest groups of foreigners entering the country, as strict regulations deter many Americans from coming. Tehran’s government stipulates that citizens of the United States, Canada and Britain must apply for group visas at Iranian embassies in their respective countries.
Restrictions on American tourists are more stringent, as they must have a certified tour guide accompanying them on their travels, which deter many from coming.
Demographically, a significant proportion of American and Western European tour groups heading to Iran are retirees and purchase their trips as part of package tours.
Iran has relaxed its visa rules and issues visa on arrival to citizens of more than 180 countries in 10 of its international airports. The length of the airport visa is 30 days, but can be extended for an additional 60 days.
Citizens of the United States, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan have to get a visa before traveling to Iran.