US sanctions hit Iranian students seeking bank accounts in Europe

Al-Monitor | Saeid Jafari :The reimposition of US sanctions on Iran has created many difficulties for Iranian students who are studying abroad — including in Europe. The root of these hardships seems to be European companies’ fear of potential US penalties.

Sima is an Iranian student pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering who traveled to Spain in September to take part in a one-year research program. She has not yet been able to open a bank account in the country, and told Al-Monitor she has had to hide the money she brought with her from Iran in her bag and take it wherever she goes in Madrid. Other Iranian students have faced similar difficulties in Europe; since the United States reimposed sanctions against Iran last year, European banks seem to have increasingly imposed restrictions on Iranian students — including refusing to open accounts.

Sima said, “I went to Bankia, Banka and Caixa in Madrid and none of them agreed to open an account for me. As soon as they realized I was from Iran, they said they could not open accounts for Iranians.” Sima said only one bank was willing to do this for her — but on condition she present her residency card, which takes up to three months to be issued. “Santander was the only bank that agreed to open an account for me. So, until I get my residency card, I have to carry my money with me in my bag, which has been the case since September.”

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