LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two years ago, Leili Ghazi quit studying biomedical engineering in Iran and seized the chance to travel to the United States to build a new life for herself and her parents.

Now, the 22-year-old is separated indefinitely from her family because her father performed required military service more than two decades ago as a conscript for a branch of the Iranian armed forces that the U.S. government years later declared a foreign terrorist organization. The designation bars anyone associated with the group from traveling to the United States, including her dad.

“He had to do office work and work on plans of buildings,” said Ghazi, who has been anxious and depressed since moving to Southern California. She expected her parents to eventually join her but later learned her father would be forced to stay behind. “He hasn’t done any activity of going to war or anything. It was not anything like that.”

It has long been a challenge for Iranians to travel to the United States and visa applicants often wait months or years for background checks to clear. But since the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization in 2019, it has become all but impossible for anyone who served in the branch, even as a conscript and in a non-combat role, to obtain a visa to travel to the United States.

Many Iranian Americans and their families hoped the Biden administration would reverse course on the designation so those who served as conscripts could still travel. They note Iranian men are compelled to serve if they want to obtain passports to leave the country, have no say over what branch they’re assigned to and largely perform basic tasks such as painting or office jobs.

But their hopes were dashed when

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