New York Times' Tehran bureau chief now needs a visa to enter the U.S.

NYT Tehran bureau chief cannot enter U.S.
(Image credit: -/AFP/Getty Images)

You think your commute is bad? Imagine having to get a visa before you can even go into the office.

That is the reality for Dutch citizen Thomas Erdbrink, who is serving as The New York Times' Tehran bureau chief in Iran and can now no longer go to the paper's New York City headquarters without a visa:

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Erdbrink is one of many affected by a strict tightening of the U.S. visa waiver program, which was passed in Congress last month. According to the new rules, citizens of 38 countries that were formerly allowed to travel in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa will now need a visa if they are dual Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese, or Syrian citizens, The Guardian reports. Likewise, citizens of those same 38 countries will need to obtain a visa if they have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan in the past five years — like Erdbrink.

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Dr. Firouz Naderi, an Iranian-born senior scientist at NASA who is affected by the waiver program, told The Guardian he believes the visa waiver restrictions are political. “If you're a businessman in Europe and you're thinking about doing business in Iran once the sanctions are lifted... you might think twice about going to Iran because that's going to impact your traveling to America... You might say, 'It would have been nice to go but it's just not worth the penalty of now having to get a visa to go to the U.S.' So in some way it's a perpetuation of the sanctions," Naderi said.

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