Personal Stories

The ban affects real people. Read their stories here. If you have a story to share, please contact us.



I am an Iranian student finishing my PhD in the field of Astrophysics at the University of Victoria, and have been applying for postdoctoral research positions in the US and Europe. I have a job offer from an American university with the addition of two shortlisted positions in prestigious universities. I cannot think about any of those positions now, since I do not know whether I will be able to get a visa and start a position this summer in the US.

I am also invited to give seminars at two American universities in the next two months. I have to cancel my talks due to the current travel ban. I am at the beginning of my scientific career. Missing all these talks and job opportunities come with a huge personal cost. Besides, losing a basic right to travel to a country as a peaceful individual hurts.



I am an Iranian Astronomer at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Together with my colleagues, I have identified a sample of potential high-redshift X-ray galaxy group candidates. In order to confirm their identification, we need to follow up them spectroscopically. Our proposal for time at the Keck Telescope on Hawaii to observe these groups was accepted in December 2016 and the observations are scheduled for one night in February 2017. In order to perform the  observing run I must be in Hawaii in the last week of February, so I applied for a US visa immediately. While getting a visa for the US was always a challenge, the immigration ban has destroyed all hopes of travelling to Hawaii and carry out my work.



I am an Iranian Astronomer at KU Leuven in Belgium. I have been invited to give an oral presentation in one of the most prestigious massive star conferences in the world, taking place at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California Santa Barbara.

However, the new visa regulation bans me from entering US, to participate in the conference, to give my talk, and enjoy one of the basic privileges that billions of other people on this planet have. This racial discrimination hurts badly, especially when I am accused of being a security threat against the US.


Ahmed Elagali, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, University of Western Australia, Australia.


I am a first year PhD student in Astrophysics, at the University of Western Australia. I am from Sudan, which means I can not participate in conferences/workshops in the US. At this early stage of my career, I need to attend as many conferences as possible to both increase my knowledge in the field and build my connections with other researchers around the globe.

This ban may inconvenience my training, as considerable fraction of the astronomical community is based in the US, and I might even be unable to apply for postdoc positions if this ban continues. It is clear that this ban is negatively affecting many people who have done nothing wrong and don't deserve to be treated this way! Not to mention that it is extremely hateful, and a pure form of racial discrimination.


Venus Keus, High Energy Therory Group, Department of Physics, Unviersity of Helsinki, Finland

As a postdocrtoral researcher, it's very important that I collaborate with scientists around the world. I have worked very long and hard to get where I am. Working with Prof. Howard Haber, a world renowned physicist at University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), has been a dream of mine. He had finally managed to find time in his busy schedule to host me for a month at UCSC, so that we can work closely together. I was going to give several seminars in different institutes, discuss physics with accomplished US scientists and start new collaborations and friendships. Everything was in order: tickets bought, apartment rented, visa documents submitted, visa appointment booked and paid for.
The dream crumbled into pieces when I got an email from the American embassy saying that my visa appointment was cancelled with no rescheduling plan or refund. I phoned them to try to get some clarity on the matter but there was no helpful response. I am devastated to have been banned from working closely with my idol, but I realise that the situation is much worse for my friends, students who have made it to the US academic circles and are now banned from returning to what they have worked so hard to build, families who have been ripped apart because one member of the family is Iranian, friends who have fled Iran because of their religious or political views to go to the "land of the free" but are now being sent back to who knows what, and it makes me ache inside.