Austria has blocked about 300 non-Muslim Iranians seeking refugee status in the U.S. as fallout from President Donald Trump’s immigration ban continues. As part of a long-running program, Austria had been serving as a middleman in helping Iranian Jews, Christians and Baha'i resettle in the U.S. if they were at risk at home. U.S. authorities conducted interviews with the candidates in Austria, since they were unable to do it in Iran. But the program, officially called the “Iranian Lautenberg Program,” has been suspended after Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from certain countries, the Associated Press reported Saturday, citing Austrian authorities. Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Thomas Schnoell was cited as saying, “U.S. authorities told us that the onward trip for people to the U.S.A., who received visas from Austrian authorities as part of the program, would be put on hold for now.” The State Department reportedly sent an email earlier this week stating that the Austrian government had “electronically canceled” its visas for applicants, warning that if the applicants tried to get into Austria without a visa, they’d be permanently banned from the country. The program’s cancellation will affect about 300 Iranians who’d gotten visas for Austria, Schnoell said. While about 100 of them have already been informed of the news, the other 200 have yet to be found and notified.
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