Dr Sobhani had applied for a new passport in February. However, a letter from the US State Department said that his father should not have been granted citizenship at birth as his father was a diplomat in the Iranian embassy.
Persons born to American parents with diplomatic privileges do not acquire US citizenship at birth. At the time of his birth, Sobhani enjoyed diplomatic privileges under the American jurisdiction. Therefore, the letter stated that he had not acquired citizenship.
But Sobhani has practiced medicine in America for more than 30 years. He had not faced such a problem till now. Throughout his life, the US State Department repeatedly confirmed that he was an American citizen. Every time his passport was renewed.
Sobhani, who turned 62 recently, had started thinking about retirement. Both he and his wife wanted to travel around different countries and buy a house in a place they liked. But now he has to apply for legal permanent residence as per the instructions of the Department of External Affairs.
He has already spent more than $40,000 in legal fees and has no idea when the case will be resolved, he told the Washington Post.
“I am waiting for the interview. But does that mean I have to wait another year for the interview? Another three years for the next step? Another 10 years to be able to travel outside the country?” Displeased with that.
His father was ambassador to Iran so he could move there. But because he spoke against the government there, it is not possible to live there safely. It is unclear whether he will get a passport to attend his son’s wedding in Portugal next year.