A 61-year-old doctor from Virginia, born in the US, has shockingly been stripped of his citizenship due to his late father’s status as an Iranian diplomat at the time of his birth in a shocking upset.
Siavash Sobhani found himself stateless when he attempted to renew his passport in June this year, with officials claiming he should never have been granted American citizenship in 1960 explaining that children born in the US to parents with diplomatic immunity, like his father had as an Iranian Embassy employee, shouldn’t automatically acquire citizenship. This is despite the usual rule that all babies born in the US are given citizenship.
Although Sobhani is a respected doctor with 3,000 active patients and degrees from prestigious universities, the State Department still took this action. Sobhani has lived in the US for his entire life, except for a brief period during his childhood when his family moved to Turkey.
His brother Rob Sobhani, 63, even ran for Senate in Maryland in 2012. Sobhani expressed that he can’t safely live in Iran due to his brother’s political ties to the US and because he has spoken out against the government.
The State Department sent a letter to Sobhani, which read: “As a member of your parent’s household at the time of your birth, you also enjoyed full diplomatic immunity from the jurisdiction of the United States. Therefore, you did not acquire US citizenship at birth.” Sobhani was left puzzled by this letter, which led him to delve into his family history.
He found out that his older brother, born in Kansas when their father was a military student, had an illness that required surgery as a baby. Their father secured a temporary job at the Iranian Embassy to extend their stay in the US through October and November 1961 – the month Sobhani was born at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
They later lived in Turkey for several years, before returning to DC where Sobhani attended Georgetown Preparatory School. Sobhani has written letters to Virginia Sen. Mark R Warner and Rep. Gerald E Connolly asking for their assistance.
Sobhani, who has been “directly involved in the care of tens of thousands of lives, currently with an active patient panel of over 3,000 patients,” expressed his hope that his service to the community would influence the decision about his citizenship.
This is not the first time someone has lost their US citizenship due to their parent’s diplomatic status. A US-born Yemini woman was recently denied citizenship after she ran off to Syria to join ISIS in 2014.