U.S. Customs Is Ordered to Verify Student Visas

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has ordered its border agents to verify that every international student who arrives in the United States has a valid student visa, “effective immediately,” according to an internal memorandum obtained by the Associated Press.

The order was circulated one day after the Obama administration acknowledged that Azamat Tazhayakov, a student from Kazakhstan who is accused of covering up evidence for one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, had been allowed to return to the United States without a valid student visa. Mr. Tazhayakov was a classmate of the suspect, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, but was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. He was one of three additional suspects charged this week in connection with the investigation.

In the aftermath of the bombing, some lawmakers have raised concerns about the student-visa system, even though neither of the two suspected bombers was in the United States on a student visa. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican of Kentucky, sent a letter to the Senate majority leader asking if the time had come to take a “hard look” at the student-visa program.

Return to Top