The U.S. is extending its visa program to some of the world’s worst human-rights abusers, with a number of countries receiving extensions in the last month.
The White House announced Tuesday that it had extended the visas of “high-level government officials” from Iran and Saudi Arabia since Jan. 16, 2017, in a move that will allow for more visas for people from those nations.
The move follows President Donald Trump’s decision to extend the visas for Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, in December, though both countries had previously rejected those requests.
Saudi Arabia, the U, and other nations in the region are seeking to limit Iran’s influence in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen, a country under the control of Iran.
In February, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his support for the renewal of the visa program, but Trump has since pushed back against it.
Trump signed an executive order earlier this month granting the U’s executive branch the authority to revoke or extend visas to certain individuals from countries whose governments have committed serious human-trafficking violations.
Iran is among the countries whose citizens are targeted by the order.
Trump has also expanded the scope of the program, which he said in February was necessary to stop the flow of illegal migrants into the U., as well as to provide greater flexibility to U..
S.-bound visa holders from other nations.
On Tuesday, the White House said it was extending its offer to all countries, including Iran, the country Trump said he would revoke.
The extension is intended to allow for a number more visas to be granted to Iranians and Saudis, the administration said.
The new visa extension was issued on behalf of U.L.G.E., the umbrella group of international NGOs, organizations, and governments that support the rights of LGBT people and the marginalized, the State Department said.
The groups included the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Rescue Committee, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.
The U.A.E. has a long history of fighting for the rights and safety of LGBTI people and marginalized people.
In recent years, it has also been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, human rights abuses, and violence against women.
Iran’s foreign ministry has also issued a statement expressing concern over the new visa program.
The ministry said it “strongly rejects” the U-turn, adding that it “has no intention of renewing these visas to any individuals, which have violated human rights and are in violation of international law.”