US tightening rules on student visas after Boston Bombing


visa approvedOne of three college students arrested Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombings case was allowed to return to the United States from Kazakhstan in January despite not having a valid student visa, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

Authorities charged the student – a friend and classmate of one of the men accused of setting off the deadly explosions – with helping after the attacks to remove a laptop and backpack from the bombing suspect’s dormitory room before the FBI searched it.

The government acknowledged that U.S. Customs and Border Protection was unaware that the student was no longer in school when he was let back into the United States.

The disclosure was another instance of possible lapses by the federal government in the months before the Boston bombings. The Obama administration earlier this week announced an internal review of how U.S. intelligence agencies shared sensitive information and whether the government could have disrupted the attack. Republicans in Congress have promised oversight hearings starting next week.

Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested three college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a bombing suspect, including Azamat Tazhayakov, a friend and classmate of Tsarnaev’s at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Tazhayakov left the U.S. in December and returned Jan. 20.

But in early January, his student-visa status was terminated because he was academically dismissed from the university, the official told the AP.

The law enforcement official said information about Tazhayakov’s status was in the Homeland Security Department’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, called SEVIS, when Tazhayakov arrived in New York in January.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss details of Tazhayakov’s immigration history.

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