Stricter student visa checks resulting in long border delays

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by TERESA YUAN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @TeresaYuan

KING5.com

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 7:26 AM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 9:15 AM

SEATTLE -- New student visa policies are in place after the Boston bombings, but the new directive is causing long delays at borders.

Two friends of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged with obstructing justice may have been in the United States on student visas that were not valid anymore.
 
Since this discovery, Homeland Security has ordered U.S. Customs and Border agents to check and verify international students crossing any border for a valid student visa.

The University of Washington has been advised by customs that all foreign students crossing any border will now have to go through a secondary screening, according to Bob Roseth with the University of Washington’s Public Relations.

It's adding an extra 2 to 3 hours at the border. For example, if an international student is go to a conference in Vancouver B.C., they’ll need to allow time for the additional screening.

At the University of Texas-El Paso, students who cross the border daily are missing classes because they're stuck in the new screening process.

“The amount of international students that cross the border just overwhelms the amount of manpower they have to do that for every single one of us that's coming every day, all day,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, an international student.
 
School leaders say that's a shame.

"That secondary inspection often causes much longer delays for students as they cross over into the United States. And we were hearing delays anywhere from 30 minutes to 3-4 hours,” said Gary Edens of the University of Texas-El Paso.

New York Congressman Peter King says custom officials can't keep up.

“The problem, they will tell you, is there are 850,000 student visas and there's an I-20 form which certifies whether or not that person is still in compliance with the requirements of the visa, whether or not he's still a credited student, and unfortunately it does not appear the technology's there to marry them up, which I think is inexcusable,” said Rep. King.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano reportedly said she expects to have an automated system for checking student visas in place by the end of the month.

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