Xavi Hernandez was prevented from entering the US. Here’s how you can avoid his fate

xavi hernandez
Xavi Hernandez, manager of FC Barcelona, was denied entry to the US due to his previous visits to Iran from 2015 to 2019. Source: Pau Barrena/AFP

Are you an international heading to the US? As you prepare to live and study in a foreign country, it is great to be mindful of issues that could prevent you from travelling to the US — which was the case for Xavi Hernandez.

According to reports, the coach and manager of FC Barcelona was reportedly barred from boarding a plane to the US with his team on July 16, 2022. He did not pass the US’ Electronic System for Travel Authorisation on Friday before the team’s scheduled departure, reports the New Arab.

Special permit required for Xavi Hernandez to enter the US

Spanish daily El Mundo Deportivo reported that Hernandez, who previously played for the Spanish team, visited Iran on a few occasions during his time as a player for Al-Sadd, a Qatari sports club from 2015 to 2019.

The manager, who played the last match of his footballing career in Iran with the Qatari club in 2019, required a special permit to enter the US. The portal said Hernandez played three games in the Islamic Republic.

The New Arab reports that the Catalans were heading to Miami to participate in several pre-season training sessions and four friendly matches, including a game against El Classico rivals, Real Madrid.

Fortunately, the 42-year-old manager arrived in Miami last Wednesday afternoon — just in time for Barca’s triumphant debut in the US, 6-0 over Inter Miami, said the club’s website.

xavi hernandez

Al-Sadd’s Xavi Hernandez kicks the ball during the AFC Champions League quarter-final match between Esteghlal FC and Al-Sadd SC at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Sept. 17, 2018. Source: Karim Jaafar/AFP

Travelling to the US: What you can do to avoid Xavi Hernandez’s mistakes

Slow visa processing times and visa backlogs are two hurdles many international students face as they start or continue their education abroad as countries navigate a post-COVID-19 world.

For instance, Canada had an immigration backlog of nearly 2.4 million in June. Many students are in a bind due to slow study permit processing times.

The US Virtual Embassy Iran advises students planning to study abroad in the US to apply as soon as possible. Once you have decided which school you wish to attend and upon receiving your official I-20 form (indicating acceptance at that institution), you are ready to apply for your student visa.

xavi hernandez

Demand for student visas tends to peak from June to September which can result in longer visa processing times. Source: Nathan Howard/Getty Images North America/ Getty Images/AFP

Demand for student visas also tends to peak from June to September, resulting in longer visa processing times.

If you have travelled to Iran as a student, different rules may apply. In Xavi Hernandez’s case, he needed to apply for a special permit to enter the US. We advise you to reach out to a representative of a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country to clarify if there are additional procedures you would have to follow in applying for a student visa if you have travelled to Iran, or even other countries such as Iraq and Syria, among others. 

In any case, you should ensure that you have all the necessary information and documents to submit your visa application without a hitch on your first try. According to the US Department of State, an incomplete application or lack of supporting documents is a valid reason for your student visa to be rejected.