15-year-old student Pouya Ghadirian was all set to go to space camp in the U.S. with his high school when he found out he wouldn’t be getting a visa.
Ghadirian is reportedly the first Australian to be denied a visa to travel within the United States after its president banned immigration from seven predominately Muslim countries. He was born in Australia, and has Australian and Iranian dual citizenship “by descent.”
The Melbourne-based Year 11 student told 9 News he was “gutted” about not being able to visit Washington and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama with his class in March.
Arriving at the U.S. Consulate in Melbourne on Monday, Ghadirian said things got very bleak. “They were a bit shocked and they didn’t know how to handle it. They said they had terrible news,” he told AAP according to SBS. “They said it was the first time it had happened in an Australian embassy.”
He continued: “I cried at the consulate and I don’t normally,” he says. “My dad was upset as well because he was saying, ‘Look we’ve had no criminal record and we’ve done nothing wrong.'”
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a museum and learning facility once described by astronaut Owen Garriott as a great place to “learn about space in a town that has embraced the space program from the very beginning.” The institution’s “space camp” program includes exercises, challenges and learning activities designed to promote science, math, engineering, aviation and exploration.
On Tuesday, prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull made a statement before reporters, assuring Australians that those with dual citizenship would not be subjected to the current U.S. immigration ban.
According to the ABC, Turnbull was in contact with Trump’s national security advisor and Australia’s ambassador in Washington, Joe Hockey, who said Australians would be exempt. “We have received confirmation from the White House this morning that Australian passport holders will be able to travel to and from the United States in the normal way,” he said. “They won’t be affected by the recent executive order regardless of whether they are dual citizens of another country or where they were born.”
When asked for a comment regarding Ghadiarian’s visa ban specifically, Turnbull said, “Well, I’ve seen that report and of course we don’t know all the facts surrounding that. But in the light of the assurance that has been given today, it may be that that case can be reconsidered.”
Learning of Turnbull’s comments, Ghadirian told AAP according to SBS, “It’s great, if it works out,” adding”I don’t want to get into politics … If what just happened is true, and Malcolm Turnbull has made it so Australian dual-nationals won’t be affected, then that’s a good thing I guess.”
Ghadiarian’s consulate rejection comes after President Trump issued an executive order Friday, preventing people from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, from entering the the U.S.
UPDATE: Jan. 31, 2017, 4:11 p.m. AEDT A spokesperson for the US Embassy has told Mashable it does not comment on individual consular cases, due to privacy.