Following the arrest of three college friends of one of the Boston bombing suspects, the Associated Press is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security is changing its procedures for verifying whether an arriving international student has a valid visa. That won't affect most of the thousands of foreign students already in southern California.
One of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends from Kazakhstan had been allowed back into the U.S. in January despite not having a valid student visa. The border agent at the airport did not check his status in the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, because the rules only required a check if a student was sent to a second officer for additional questioning.
Now, under the new rules, all border agents will verify arriving students' visa status through the federal student information system.
Tony Tambascia, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at USC, says he first heard of the new DHS directive this morning. USC has the largest international student population of any US college campus.
Tambascia tells KPCC that every institution enrolling international students is required to report any new information about those students regularly to the federal government. "Otherwise, they can't be enrolled in school," says Tambascia.
The new Homeland Security rule should not affect students already enrolled in college with valid visas. However, the new approach will have implications for returning international students whose visas have expired.
Federal Customs and Border Protection could not be reached for further comment.