The last few years have been tough and confusing for many families separated by the Trump administration’s travel ban on Muslim majority countries.
Now, with President Biden’s reversal of the policy, a San Diego family has received promising news that they should be able to see their relative in a matter of weeks.
San Diegan Negar Sadegholvad has been separated from her husband Kourosh Sepahpour, an Iranian citizen for three years. They share a son Borna, almost 4 years-old, who has seen his dad only a handful of times when they travel to Iran.
Sadegholvad has been measuring her life lately in the moments missed. The couple met at a wedding in Iran and began dating for two years before they got married. In that time, they were able to travel using visas to both countries.
“When I was 8 months pregnant, the first travel ban hit,” said Sadegholvad.
The family had plans to start life as a family of three in the U.S. Sepahpour planned to leave his job running a prominent dairy farm in Iran, to begin anew in the states. But the week of his interview to start the Green Card process, the Trump administration implemented the travel ban. Sepahpour was able to be there for the birth of his son, but has never been able to come back.
“It ended up turning our plans and our world completely upside down,” said Sadegholvad. “You are somehow almost like a second class citizen. You can’t do what all the other citizens are doing because of the country that your parents grew up in. It’s more than discrimination. It’s just so offensive.”
Ultimately, Sepahpour Green Card application was paused and the family struggled to get clear answers, but she had to have one for her son.
“He actually knows like on election day, I told him if Biden gets elected, your daddy can come here. So he knows,” said Sadegholvad.
She believes Biden’s travel ban reversal, prompted the embassy and the state department to contact her and pick up where things left off regarding her husband’s application process.
“I’m happy. I’m grateful that his green card will be ready soon right. But my son has been separated from his father for three years and the emotional and psychological scars will not be reversed through a policy,” said Sadegholvad.
She hopes her own scars will heal too, so she can trust again, the country she calls home.
Tom Wong, an immigration policy expert told NBC 7, the State Department is reviewing the applications of those denied by the travel bans. But during the pandemic, the limited capacity at embassies and consulates and in some cases people having to start from scratch means it could be some time before people see things moving again.
Wong added, there will be plenty more waiting and obstacles ahead for families trying to resume their visa and Green Card applications.