Frequently Asked Questions

853. Can U.S. academic institutions provide online learning services to Iranian students who are not physically present in the United States because of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic?  Can U.S. technology companies provide software and services to assist Iranian students in accessing online coursework?

Answer

General licenses issued under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) authorize certain U.S. academic institutions and other U.S. persons to provide certain services and software to Iranian students.  These general licenses include:

  • General License G (GL G) authorizes accredited graduate and undergraduate degree-granting U.S. academic institutions, including their contractors, to export services to students located in Iran, or located outside of Iran but who are ordinarily resident in Iran (“Iranian students”), to sign up for and participate in certain undergraduate level online courses, notably:  (i) courses in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business that are the equivalent of courses ordinarily required for the completion of undergraduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business; and (ii) introductory undergraduate level science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses ordinarily required for the completion of undergraduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business.  In addition, under Section 560.405 of the ITSR, certain transactions ordinarily incident to a licensed transaction are also authorized.  OFAC interprets Section 560.405 of the ITSR to authorize certain transactions ordinarily incident to courses authorized by GL G, including the giving of assignments and testing and grading of Iranian students.  
  • General License M (GL M) authorizes, on a time-limited basis, accredited graduate and undergraduate degree-granting U.S. academic institutions, including their contractors, to export additional services to those Iranian students who are eligible for non-immigrant classification under categories F (students) or M (non-academic students), and have been granted a nonimmigrant visa by the U.S. State Department, but are not physically present in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, GL M authorizes the provision of certain online educational services related to:  educational courses that are (i) the equivalent of courses ordinarily required for the completion of graduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business; and (ii) introductory science, technology, engineering, or mathematics courses ordinarily required for the completion of graduate degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, law, or business.  OFAC interprets Section 560.405 of the ITSR to authorize certain transactions ordinarily incident to courses authorized by GL M, including the giving of assignments and testing and grading of Iranian students.  GL M also authorizes the exportation of certain software to facilitate the participation of certain Iranian students in certain online educational activities, as explained further below.  GL M authorizes covered activities through 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time September 1, 2021.
  • Section 560.540 of the ITSR and General License D-1 authorize the exportation to Iran of certain services and software incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet, such as instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing, and blogging.  OFAC interprets these authorizations to cover video conferencing software and related services, as well as educational technology software and related services, that allow students to view courses and course materials, complete tests and assignments, receive grades, participate in discussions, and other, similar course-related online activity, provided that the software meets the additional criteria of the applicable authorization.  For more guidance on Section 560.540 of the ITSR and General License D-1, please see FAQs 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 434, 435, 436, 437, 438, 439, 440, 441, 442, and 443.  In addition, GL M also authorizes the exportation of certain software in order to facilitate participation in online educational activities described in GL G and GL M by Iranian students who are eligible for non-immigrant classification under categories F (students) or M (non-academic students), and have been granted a nonimmigrant visa by the U.S. State Department, but are not physically present in the United States due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To export services to Iranian students that fall outside of these authorizations, U.S. persons may apply for a specific license through the OFAC License Application Page.  OFAC is committed to mitigating the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritizes the review of specific license applications to provide online learning services to Iranian students who are not physically present in the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Please note that the general licenses summarized above do not authorize the exportation of goods (including software), services, or technology to the Government of Iran or to persons blocked under any authority administered by OFAC, including OFAC’s counterterrorism or counterproliferation authorities. 

Date Released
October 29, 2020