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Born in the U.S.A., But Not a Citizen: Doctor’s Citizenship Revoked After 61 Years

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A 61-year-old doctor from Virginia, born in the USA, lost his citizenship because his father was an Iranian diplomat when he was born.

A pictured Siavash Sobhani, holding a black U.S. Passport
Source: @MailOnline/Twitter

In June of this year, Siavash Sobhani faced the shocking realization of becoming stateless while attempting to renew his passport. Officials informed him that they should never have granted his American citizenship in 1960 in the first place.

Siavash Sobhani received startling news from the State Department. Children born in the US to parents with diplomatic immunity, like his father at the Iranian Embassy, wouldn’t get automatic citizenship.

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This is unusual since, under normal circumstances, all babies born in the US are granted citizenship. This decision was made despite Sobhani’s standing as a respected doctor with an extensive list of 3,000 active patients. He earned degrees from George Washington University, Boston College, and Georgetown Medical School.

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Except for a brief infancy time spent in Turkey with his family, Siavash Sobhani has lived his entire life in the United States.

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In 2012, Rob Sobhani, his brother, even entered the Maryland Senate race. Sobhani explained that his brother’s political ties to the US and his own open criticism of the Iranian government make living in Iran safely impossible. 

In correspondence with Sobhani, the State Department emphasized his complete diplomatic immunity at birth due to being part of his parents’ household. This granted him immunity from the jurisdiction of the United States.

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According to the State Department’s letter, “As a result, you were born outside of the jurisdiction of the United States. As a result, you did not obtain US citizenship at birth.” 

This revelation perplexed Sobhani, causing him to investigate his family history. Despite the difficulties posed by his deceased father and his mother’s dementia, Sobhani discovered an important detail. His older brother, born in Kansas while their father was a military student, had a medical issue that necessitated surgery as an infant.

Due to his brother’s medical needs, Siavash Sobhani’s father took a temporary appointment at the Iranian Embassy to extend their stay in the United States until November 1961. That month, Siavash Sobhani was born at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 

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After that, they spent several years in Turkey before returning to DC, where Sobhani attended Georgetown Preparatory School. Sobhani requested help in letters to Virginia Senator Mark R Warner and Representative Gerald E Connolly.

He emphasized his career committed to assisting people in Virginia and the DC region. He had personally influenced the lives of tens of thousands with an active patient panel surpassing 3,000 individuals.

Sobhani hoped that his 30 years of devotion to the Virginian community would influence lawmakers’ decisions in the letters to them.

Congressman Connolly responded warmly, assuring the case of priority. He admitted that it was challenging to discover non-citizenship after believing otherwise. Sobhani, on the other hand, is unsure of the timeframe or surety of recovering his citizenship.

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