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Secretary of State Kerry Sends Letter to Iranian Foreign Minister re Visa Waiver Issues


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter on December 19, 2015, to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif assuring him that the United States remains committed to lifting visa sanctions as provided for under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA is a diplomatic agreement intended to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. Among other things the JCPOA will eventually lift certain economic and visa sanctions on Iran.

Secretary of State Kerry noted that the Obama administration has the authority to waive recent changes in visa requirements passed in Congress as part of the omnibus spending bill. See the omnibus article in this issue, above. Secretary Kerry expressed confidence that the visa provisions in the omnibus spending bill “will not in any way prevent us from meeting our JCPOA commitments, and that we will implement them so as not to interfere with legitimate business interests of Iran.” To this end, he noted that the United States has “a number of potential tools available to us, including multiple entry ten-year business visas, programs for expediting business visas, and the waiver authority provided under the new legislation.” He said he would be “happy to discuss this further and provide any additional clarification.”

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