UMass Amherst is committed to admitting students who can successfully complete their selected course of study and to providing the widest range of opportunities to all qualified students who are accepted. The University is also obliged to respect laws passed by Congress that restrict the definition of admissible students.
In August 2012, Congress enacted the “Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012,” (Pub.L. 112-158,, August 10, 2012), which excludes citizens of Iran from education in the United States if they plan to focus on nuclear and, more broadly, energy related research in Iran.
In July 2013, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provided clarification on H.R. 1905, stating that Iranian citizens are ineligible for U.S. visas if they are seeking to participate in higher education in preparation for a career in Iran’s petroleum, natural gas, nuclear energy, nuclear science, or nuclear engineering fields.1 Additionally, Iranian citizens seeking to study in other fields, such as business, management or computer science, but who intend to use these skills in Iran’s oil, natural gas or nuclear energy sectors, are also ineligible for visas. The most important part of the law is excerpted below:
The Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall exclude from the United States, any alien who is a citizen of Iran that the Secretary of State determines seeks to enter the United States to participate in coursework at an institution of higher education…to prepare the alien for a career in the energy sector of Iran or in nuclear science or nuclear engineering or a related field in Iran.
Colleges and universities in the U.S. have found that Iranian students who travel abroad during their studies are being denied reentry by the Department of Homeland Security as a result of these and other regulations. There are significant penalties, both civil and criminal, that could potentially impact faculty, staff and students, for violations of this Act and the related regulations and restrictions. Iranian students enrolling after the 2012 sanctions must comply with all of the restrictions. Although students holding visas granted prior to the 2012 regulation are “grandfathered,” implementation at the U.S. Department of the State may impact students who travel abroad or whose visa is due for renewal.
The University has determined that these sanctions pose a significant challenge to our ability to provide a full program of education and research for Iranian students in certain disciplines and programs. Because we must ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, the University has determined that it will no longer admit Iranian national students to specific programs in the College of Engineering (i.e., Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering) and in the College of Natural Sciences (i.e., Physics, Chemistry, Microbiology, and Polymer Science & Engineering) effective February 1, 2015.
In addition, all enrolled Iranian national students will be required to acknowledge the restrictions imposed by the 2012 sanctions and certify their compliance in writing. We recognize that these decisions create difficulties for our students from Iran and regard this as unfortunate. Furthermore, the exclusion of a class of students from admission directly conflicts with our institutional values and principles. However, we must to adhere to the law and hence have instituted this policy to ensure that we are in compliance.