Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security. Iranian authorities have also prevented the departure, in some cases for months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons.
In June 2017, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would take “reciprocal action” in response to the implementation of Executive Order 13780. This Executive Order prohibits the issuance of U.S. visas to nationals of Iran and five other countries unless they are either exempt or are issued a waiver. The Department of State has received reports that Iran is denying visas to U.S. citizens in response.
The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with Iran and, therefore, cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens there. The Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as the protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran. The range of consular services provided by the Foreign Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy is limited and may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. embassies or consulates.
The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality and will not allow the Swiss to provide protective services for U.S. citizens who are also Iranian nationals. Iranian authorities make the determination of a dual national's Iranian citizenship without regard to the dual national's personal wishes. Consular access to detained U.S. citizens without dual nationality is often delayed.
The Iranian government continues to repress minority religious and ethnic groups, including Christians, Baha'i, Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and others. Consequently, some areas within the country where these minorities reside, including the province of Sistan-Baluchistan near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan and the provinces of Kurdistan and East-Azerbaijan in the northwest of the country near the Iraqi border, remain unsafe. Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution. See the Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for more information on the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran.
The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft flying into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration's Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
The U.S. government's ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited. U.S. citizens in Iran should ensure that they have updated documentation at all times and make their own plans in the event of an emergency. For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis" at the Department's website.