Sanctions, Visas, Pandemic: One Iranian Student's Bumpy Path to SF State

Monday, January 25, 2021
Hasti Jafari Jozani looks out a window with a reflection of trees and open space
Hasti Jafari Jozani. Photo by Siavash Jafari Jozani.

SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER -- Visa interviews at consulates surrounding Iran — which has no United States embassy of its own — are hard to come by during the pandemic, but Hasti Jafari Jozani managed to nab one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in October, in a process that required her to quarantine there for two weeks.

So when her visa was granted to study at San Francisco State University this spring, after she had already deferred fall admission and a prestigious scholarship, she jumped with joy.

The 25-year-old playwright got to Istanbul, Turkey, two weeks ahead of her flight to San Francisco, as required under U.S. travel restrictions barring non U.S. citizens from direct flights departing from Iran. But then she belatedly discovered that federal guidelines now required incoming students to have proof of an in-person study component to be allowed into the U.S. upon arrival. San Francisco State’s classes are all online this semester, meaning she didn’t qualify.