AFP | Google.com | May 20, 2011
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday the United States is easing visa terms for Iranian students here as part of efforts to support their aspirations for political change back home.
In what she called a "big step forward" in the Obama administration support's for Iran's people, Clinton said Iranian students and exchange visitors are now eligible for two-year, multiple entry visas.
"This gives young Iranians the opportunity to return home for family events, to participate in internships, to travel outside the United States -- and they won't need to get a new visa every time," she said in a statement.
The chief US diplomat said many Iranian students and Iranian Americans had asked for a change to the old policy where students and exchange visitors were eligible only for three-month, single-entry visas.
"We want more dialogue and more exchange with those of you who are shaping Iran's future. We want to be able to share what we think is great about America," Clinton said.
"Because as long as the Iranian government continues to stifle your potential, we will stand with you. We will support your aspirations, and your rights," Clinton said.
"And we will continue to look for new ways to fuel more opportunities for real change in Iran," she said.
The United States has amplified support for political change in Iran since Iranians protested the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 polls marred by massive allegations of fraud.
It has accused the Iranian leadership of hypocrisy for supporting pro-democracy protests now sweeping Arab countries while violently crushing political dissent at home.