US Customs to Verify All Student Visas

On May 2, 2013, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued an order to all border agents to verify that every international student who arrives in the United States has a valid student visa.

According to media outlets, which reportedly obtained the internal memorandum signed by CBP senior official David J. Murphy, the order is “effective immediately”.

The new procedure is the U.S. government’s first security change directly related to the Boston bombings that happened on April 15, 2013. The order comes one day after the Obama administration acknowledged that a student from Kazakhstan 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 Kazakh student Azamat Tazhayakov had been terminated when he arrived in New York on January 20, 2013. But the border agent at the airport did not have access to the information about it in the Homeland Security Department’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). As such, Tazhayakov was allowed into the United States. Tazhayakov and a second Kazakh student were arrested this week on federal charges of obstruction of justice. They were accused of helping to get rid of a backpack containing fireworks owned by bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Pursuant to the CBP order, all student visa holders arriving to the United States will not be admitted into the country until customs agents verify through the SEVIS system that the visa is still valid and has not been terminated. A student visa may be cancelled for a variety of reasons, including violations of students status, failure to register or pay for classes, dropping out of school, break in studies, and so on.

Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many international students to obtain, extend or change their F-1 status. To learn more about our services and for consultation please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].