Border agents ordered to verify all international student visas

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the Department of Homeland Security has ordered border agents “’effective immediately’ to verify that every international student who arrives in the U.S. has a valid student visa,” the New York Times and Politico report. An international student from Kazakhstan, accused of hiding evidence for one of the Boston bombing suspects, was reportedly allowed to return to the U.S. in January without a valid student visa.

The Times reports on some specifics of the new border procedures:

“Under existing procedures, border agents could verify a student’s status in SEVIS only when the person was referred to a second officer for additional inspection or questioning…

“The government for years has recognized as a problem the inability of border agents at primary inspection stations to directly review student-visa information. The Homeland Security Department was working before the bombings to resolve the problem, but the new memo outlined interim procedures until the situation was corrected.

“Under 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.”