AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has banned Iranian nationals from admission to certain graduate programs that school officials say aligns its policy with U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Effective Feb. 1, the university will not admit students from Iran to certain programs in engineering and natural sciences.

The National Iranian American Council says UMass’ interpretation of the law is flawed and may violate federal and state protections against discrimination.

Congress enacted legislation in August 2012 that denies visas for Iranian citizens to study in the U.S. if they plan to participate in coursework for a career in the energy or nuclear fields in Iran.

But a U.S. State Department official federal law does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals seeking an education in science and engineering. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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