Siavash Sobhani had applied for a new passport in February.
Despite being born in the United States and practising medicine for over 30 years in the country, a 62-year-old doctor from Virginia has shockingly been stripped of his citizenship due to his late father’s status as an Iranian diplomat at the time of his birth. According to the Washington Post, Siavash Sobhani found out he was stateless after a letter from a State Department official informed him that he was granted US citizenship by mistake when he was an infant. The letter explained that those born in the US to parents with diplomatic immunity don’t automatically acquire US citizenship.
“This was a shock to me,” Mr Sobhani told the Washington Post. “I’m a doctor. I’ve been here all my life. I’ve paid my taxes. I’ve voted for presidents. I’ve served my community in Northern Virginia. During Covid, I was at work, putting myself at risk, putting my family at risk. So when you’re told after 61 years, ‘Oh there was a mistake, you’re no longer a US citizen,’ it’s really, really shocking,” he added.
Mr Sobhani had applied for a new passport in February. He expected no difficulties in the procedure as he had renewed his passport several times previously without problems. However, this time, he did not receive a new passport. Instead, the doctor received a letter from the State Department saying that he should not have been granted citizenship at the time of his birth because his father was a diplomat with the Embassy of Iran. The letter also directed the doctor to a website where he could apply for lawful permanent residence.
Speaking to the outlet, Mr Sobhani pointed out that the fact he was indeed a US citizen was confirmed over and over again throughout his life, every time his passport was renewed. So naturally it was “a shock” to him when he was told that after 61 years, he was no longer a US citizen.
Me Sobhani told the publication that he has applied for permanent residence, as instructed. He has spent more than $40,000 on legal fees. However, he worries that he could wait in limbo as he still doesn’t know when his case might be resolved.
“I’m waiting for an interview, but does that mean I wait another year for an interview? Then another three years for the next step? Then another 10 years before I can travel outside of the country?” he said.
At 62, the doctor said that he has already started to think about retirement. He told the outlet that he and his wife planned to spend this year exploring other countries in hopes of finding a community where they could buy a home. However, now, he can’t even visit his friend in London who recently had a stroke, or his father-in-law, who lives in Lebanon and is seriously ill. “If he passes away, I can’t even go to his funeral,” Mr Sobhani said.