Guidance on Working with Iranian Students and Other Iranian Collaborators

Working with Iranian students admitted to UMBC academic programs or other research collaborators from Iran poses extra issues because of this country’s status as an embargoed country. The United States’ relationship with Iran is affected a variety of export control regulations that are subject to change on short notice. Federal regulatory units such as the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), allow for limited commercial activity is permitted with Iran but academic and research endeavors have specific restrictions. Additionally, Iranian nationals are subject to strict export control restrictions and may require authorization from the Department of Commerce to have access to equipment, information, and/or research that are subject to export controls under the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).

This guidance is extracted from export control and compliances offices of Utah State University, the University of Colorado, Boulder and Brown University.

Education Services

OFAC has issued General License G that permits U.S. academic institutions to provide certain educational services and academic exchanges under an Educational Information Exclusion with Iranian universities and students. Iranian students may apply for non-immigrant visas to attend academic institutions in the U.S. Iranian students may also participate (in person or virtually, e.g. Massive Open Online Courses [MOOCs]) in undergraduate-level online courses provided by U.S. academic institutions in the humanities, social sciences, law or business provided they are the equivalent to courses ordinarily required for the completion of undergraduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law or business.

OFAC’s General License M (updated August 25, 2022) allows U.S. academic institutions to provide online graduate level educational services to Iranian students, those ordinarily required for the completion of graduate degree programs, in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business, or are introductory science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses. U.S. academic institutions are authorized to provide online graduate level educational services to Iranian students, those ordinarily required for the completion of graduate degree programs, in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business, or are introductory science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses.  Iranian students are those individuals located in Iran, or located outside Iran but are ordinarily resident in Iran), who are eligible for non-immigrant classification under categories F (students) or M (non-academic students) and have been granted a non-immigrant visa by the U.S. State Department but are not physically present in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This specific guidance expires on September 1, 2023, and is revisited by OFAC at least once a year.

The guidance allows academic institutions to export services and related software that allow undergraduate or graduate Iranian students to sign up for, and participate in, online graduate level educational services is allowed under Iran General License G, provided this software is designated as EAR99 under the Export Administration Regulations or not subject to regulatory requirements under 15 CFR § 734.3(b)(3).

Guidance related to other academic exchanges in Iran, including attending or presenting at academic conferences and workshops is described below

Research Activities


Research collaborations are allowed between UMBC and Iranian students enrolled at UMBC (31 CFR560.505). Collaboration with students in any of the STEM fields must be done carefully. Researchers must ensure they do not release export controlled technology or software to Iranian students. While certain research results may be exempt from export controls under the Fundamental Research exclusion, most of the mechanisms and activities involved in sharing this information (via seminars and conferences) and collaboration between a U.S.-based entity and an Iranian entity to conduct research are prohibited. In other words, a U.S. entity —including individuals operating under U.S. jurisdiction —is prohibited from providing services to Iranian entities —including individuals operating under Iranian authority. Prior to release of such technology or software, contact the ORPC ( to ensure that is ordinarily incident and necessary to the educational program in which the student is enrolled and it has an export control classification of EAR99.


Collaboration and co-authorship of academic papers with Iranian individuals living in the US or based in a third country (but not in Iran) are probably allowed depending if that person is a resident within the US or that third country. The allowance depends on whether such services are not performed by or on behalf of, the Government of Iran, an entity organized under the laws of Iran or any jurisdiction within Iran, or that person is located in Iran. Collaborative activities with persons or entities in Iran remain restricted under OFAC’s sanctions program. OFAC has a licensing process where specific authorizations for a proposed research effort may be requested. Additional authorizations from BIS may also be required. Each of these processes are lengthy, may take several months and in some cases taking more than a year. Individual research endeavors with restricted individuals and entities raise many nuances within these prohibitions. UMBC persons seriously considering a collaborative research endeavor involving an Iranian entity should contact the ORPC as early as possible in the collaborative thought process at

ITSR Exemptions

If a collaboration is planned with former students or others who are living in Iran and does not involve ECCN or ITAR export- controlled technologies, there still may be restrictions imposed by OFAC. OFAC enforces the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions RegulationsITSR – (31 CFR 560), which broadly (and strictly) prohibit the importation or exportation of ANY goods or services from or to Iran without a license. The ITSR does include a “Publishing exemption” that authorizes US Persons to engage in any transactions “necessary and ordinarily incident to the publishing and marketing of manuscripts, books, journals, and newspapers in paper or electronic form.” (31 CFR 560.538). This exemption permits collaboration on the creation or “enhancement” of written publications, including translating, substantive editing, co-authoring or reviewing of materials, as well as the payment of royalties and does not include sharing or importing of data or samples used in the publication, the provision of goods or services not necessary and ordinarily incident to publishing and marketing of publications, such as legal, accounting, design, or consulting services. The ITSR also permits transactions related to travel to or within Iran, as well as the export or import of “informational materials.” Informational materials include “publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiche, tapes, compact disks, CD ROMs, artworks, and newswire feeds.”

The exemption does not apply if the other parties represent the Government of Iran (generally not an issue if they are from academic or research institutes in Iran) or are included in any denied parties lists.

Contact the ORPC at with questions about this exemption.


Physical shipments of goods from the U.S. to Iran are prohibited by both OFAC and BIS. Both agencies have mechanisms to apply for licenses to allow the export of items to Iran; however, each agency has a policy of denial for most cases. Additional shipment guidance is found on the Shipment of Export Controlled Materials web page. Contact with questions.


Attending an academic conference in a third country where Iranians are participating is allowable if that conference is open to the public, not tailored specifically for Iran or for persons ordinarily residing in Iran and does not relate petroleum or petrochemical industries, energy development, crude oil or natural gas, pipelines, or the oil services industry. The ORPC encourages researchers to reach out ( well before the conference dates for review and to answer questions.

Travel to Iran to attend a conference will require a license from OFAC. Similarly, a license is required to present via webinar to a live audience that includes individuals inside Iran. These licenses generally take four to six months to process, but in some instances, they may take a year or more. If you are interested in conducting any of these activities, contact as early as possible for assistance.

Enrollment in Academic Programs at UMBC

Iranian students, like all other international students, must receive a visa in order to study at UMBC. They may apply for and receive a student visa in which they may enroll in any courses offered by UMBC. However, Iranian students planning to study for a career in the fields of the energy sector, nuclear science, nuclear energy, aerospace engineering, or a related field are likely to be denied visas by the Department of State.

In some very limited cases, foreign students may be restricted from certain activities or sections of a course that would expose the students to technology or technical data that are restricted by US export control laws. Iranian students may also be prohibited from working on some research projects that involve export-controlled technology or technical data. Generally, this would occur only if the research was not intended to be published in the public domain, or if it involved access to equipment or software that is export-controlled. College Deans are reminded to inform department chairs and faculty that whenever international students are involved in research, investigators and lab leaders have to be certain that a license is not required. International students are not permitted to share information related to export-controlled research projects to any non-US parties, nor should they ship or travel with any export-controlled items or software. Contact the ORPC ( with export control related questions.

For more immigration, work authorizations, visa guidance and information,  contact International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS).

last update 9/2/2022

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