US & IRAN: Opening Doors to Education

Facts about Iran Education General License G

May 8th, 2014


Did you know that despite the strained and hostile relations between the governments of the USA and Iran that thousands of Iranian students study in the U.S. each year? 

In fact, according to EducationUSA, “for the past several years, the number of Iranian students studying in American colleges and universities has steadily grown such that Iran is now 22nd among the top 25 places of origin for international students.” 

As per the non-profit Institute of International Education (IIE), we’ve seen an increase in the number of students from Iran enrolled at American universities reach 8,744. This is very small when compared to the numbers of Iranian students studying in the U.S. prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At that time, the highest number in any year was 51,310. In fact, Iran was the largest source of foreign students in the US for nine straight years — from 1974-75 through 1982-83. After the revolution the number began to drop and bottomed out at 1,660 in the 1998-99 school year.

Earlier last month I participated in a conference all hosted by the US Department of State and Department of Treasury on Iran Education General License G. The absence of a presence of a U.S. embassy in Tehran and an Iranian embassy in Washington, D.C. lack of direct diplomatic relations, and imposition of economic sanctions have prevented the easy flow of students and scholars between the two countries. However, with the granting of General License G, both Iran and U.S. can begin engaging in education-related activities, though with some limitations. This is still an improvement and shows the thawing of thirty plus years of animosity between the two countries.

Here are some of the highlights of what activities are covered in General License G:

• Allow accredited U.S. colleges and universities to process applications and acceptance of payments for applications and tuition from students in Iran or individuals serving on their behalf ;

• Academic Exchange agreements between accredited U.S. graduate and undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions and Iranian universities;

• Allow for recruitment, hiring, or employment in a teaching capacity of individuals who ordinarily reside in Iran and are employed in a teaching capacity at an Iranian university;

• Providing of scholarships for Iranian students allowing them to attend accredited U.S. academic institutions;

• Export to Iran of certain additional educational services by U.S. to Iran in support of not-for-profit educational activities in Iran such as: combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, and assisting in educational reform projects;

• Provision for individuals who are ordinarily resident to enroll in certain on-line undergraduate courses (including Massive Open Online Courses, coursework not part of a degree seeking program, and fee-based courses) provided by U.S. academic institutions in the humanities, social sciences, law, business, or introductory undergraduate level science, technology, engineering, or math courses required for the completion of undergraduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business;

• U.S. persons who are enrolled in U.S. academic institutions may participate in educational courses or engage in noncommercial academic research at Iranian universities at the undergraduate or graduate level in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business;

• U.S. persons, wherever located, are authorized to administer professional certificate examinations and university entrance examinations that are necessary or required for admission to accredited U.S. academic institutions, to individuals who are ordinarily resident in Iran.

In May 2011, the U.S. Department of State implemented new visa regulations allowing Iranian students to receive two-year, multiple entry visas. As noted on the website of EducationUSA: “This allows Iranian students 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.”

The above provisions are paraphrased from the actual General License G document. For more information, the link to the license is available at:

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI

1 Comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Travel

One response to “US & IRAN: Opening Doors to Education

  1. Pingback: ECFMG and Iranian Medical School Graduates: A (real life) Drama in 3 Acts | Academic Exchange

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