Doctor Tried To Renew His US Passport Instead Lost Citizenship After 61 Years
He received a letter from the State Department instead, informing him that he should not have been granted citizenship at birth due to his father's diplomatic position.
In a surprising turn of events, a 62-year-old Virginia doctor with more than three decades of medical practice in the United States has had his citizenship revoked due to his father’s former status as an Iranian diplomat at the time of his birth. The Washington Post reports that Siavash Sobhani discovered his stateless status through a letter from a State Department official, revealing that he was mistakenly granted US citizenship as an infant, given that individuals born in the US to parents with diplomatic immunity do not automatically receive citizenship.
Expressing his shock, Dr. Sobhani shared his disbelief with the Washington Post, saying, “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.”
Dr. Sobhani, who had applied for a passport renewal in February, anticipated a routine process based on previous renewals. However, he received a letter from the State Department instead, informing him that he should not have been granted citizenship at birth due to his father’s diplomatic position. The letter directed him to a website to apply for lawful permanent residence.
Expressing frustration, Dr. Sobhani emphasized that his US citizenship had been repeatedly confirmed throughout his life during passport renewals. The sudden revelation that he was no longer a citizen after six decades was a profound shock.
Having followed the State Department’s instructions, Dr. Sobhani applied for permanent residence, incurring legal fees exceeding $40,000. However, he remains uncertain about the timeline for resolving his case, expressing concerns about potential prolonged waiting periods.
“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 voiced his apprehension.
At 62, Dr. Sobhani, contemplating retirement, had plans to explore other countries with his wife this year. However, the citizenship ordeal has hindered his ability to travel, preventing him from visiting friends and family abroad, including a friend in London recovering from a stroke and his seriously ill father-in-law in Lebanon. The uncertainty surrounding the resolution of his case has cast a shadow over his future plans and personal connections.