Long-time US doctor suddenly loses citizenship after trying to renew his passport
Virginia doctor discovers he's no longer recognized as a U.S. citizen after 61 years. He was born in Washington, D.C., and holds a U.S birth certificate.
Dr. Siavash Sobhani, a long-time Northern Virginia doctor, finds himself in a perplexing situation. At 61 years old, having practiced medicine in the U.S. for over three decades, he suddenly discovered he was no longer recognized as a citizen of the country where he was born and had built his life.
His predicament arose after attempting to renew his passport earlier this year, only to receive a shocking letter from the State Department. The letter stated that due to his father's diplomatic status with the Embassy of Iran at the time of his birth, he should not have been granted U.S. citizenship.
Expressing disbelief and dismay, Sobhani shared his astonishment, “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 U.S. citizen,’ it’s really, really shocking,” he added.
Sobhani's hope for a swift resolution seems clouded by uncertainty. His long-plan for retirement travel and attending important family gatherings are now shrouded in doubt, as he grapples with the unknown duration of his statelessness.
“I’m waiting for an interview, but does that mean I wait another year for an interview?” he expressed.
“Then another three years for the next step? Then another 10 years before I can travel outside of the country?”
His concerns range from his ability to continue practicing medicine legally to the fate of his accumulated earnings contributing to Social Security benefits, considering his Social Security number might change.
Plus, he worries about missing significant life events like his son's wedding in Portugal or being unable to visit ailing family members abroad.
The bureaucratic error that revoked his citizenship was a devastating blow. Sobhani, who previously renewed his passport without issues, finds the abrupt loss of the freedoms, protections, and benefits associated with U.S. citizenship deeply distressing.
In his efforts to rectify this situation, Sobhani sought help from local lawmakers like Sen. Mark R. Warner and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, emphasizing his commitment to serving the community and urging for their intervention. Connolly, in turn, expressed empathy, recognizing the hardship of believing one's citizenship to be valid for a lifetime, only to learn otherwise.
He wrote: “I can only hope that the impact I’ve made in caring for our community of Virginians, your constituents, for the past 30 years will hold some weight in swaying your decision to intervene on my behalf.”