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TIps to get a visa for American to visit Iran (Tehran)


Can anyone suggest good ways for an American to obtain a visa to visit Iran? I want to travel with my girlfriend to visit her family.

I am aware that I could get a tourist visa, but a tour agency told me that that requires booking a tour, adhering to the tour schedule, and staying in a hotel. Maybe some tour guides are less restrictive, but I have not yet found one.

I am also aware that I could get a business visa. Maybe there is a short-term volunteer or work opportunity, but I have not yet found one of these, either.

If anyone has some ideas or could put me in contact with someone who might be able to help, feel free to let me know.