Tuesday, May 7, 2013

US orders new visa reviews for arriving students

Associated Press, 05/03/2013 – 

“The Homeland Security Department ordered border agents ‘effective immediately’ to verify that every international student who arrives in the U.S. has a valid student visa, according to an internal memorandum obtained…by The Associated Press. The new procedure is the government's first security change directly related to the Boston bombings.

“The order from a senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection…was circulated Thursday [May 2, 2013] and came one day after the Obama administration acknowledged that a student…accused of hiding evidence for one of the Boston bombing suspects was allowed to return to the U.S. in January without a valid student visa.

“The student visa for Azamat Tazhayakov had been terminated when he arrived in New York on Jan. 20. But the border agent in the airport did not have access to the information in…SEVIS.

“…[H]is student-visa status was terminated because he was academically dismissed from the university.

“…Under the new procedures, all border agents…[are] expected to be able to access SEVIS by next week.

“The government for years has recognized as a problem the inability of border agents at primary inspection stations to directly review student-visa information.

“…[Also] [u]nder the new procedures, border agents will verify a student's visa status before the person arrives in the U.S. using information provided in flight manifests. If that information is unavailable, border agents will check the visa status manually with the agency's national targeting data center.

“It is unclear what impact the new procedure will have on wait times at airports and borders. Customs officials will be required to report any effect, including longer waits, on a daily basis.”

To read the full article, please click here.