DHS Orders Verification of Student Visas in Wake of Boston Bombings
The Department of Homeland Security reportedly has ordered U.S. border agents to verify the validity of student visas for every international student arriving in the United States, effective immediately. Border agents are to use flight manifest information to verify student visa status, and check any for which that information is not available against a DHS database, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of an internal memo circulated by David J. Murphy, of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on May 3, 2013.
The order follows news that one of the students accused of hiding evidence after the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, Azamat Tazhayakov, had returned to the United States in January without a valid visa. Reportedly, the border agent at the airport in New York where Mr. Tazhayakov entered the United States on January 20 did not have access to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and didn’t send Mr. Tazhayakov to secondary inspection where SEVIS information would have been available. All border agents will now be able to access SEVIS. One of the bombers, Tamarlan Tsarnaev, was a U.S. permanent resident and the other, Dzokhar Tsarnaev, was a U.S. citizen. Tamarlan is dead and Dzokhar is in custody.
Delays are expected at ports of entry for international students as a result of the new order.