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Student visa gap to be fixed this month: Napolitano

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 10:37

Washington: The US is working to fix the technological lag in the current student visa system, which allowed a man from Kazakhstan charged with attempting to cover up the Boston Marathon bombings to enter the country even though he was no longer enrolled in school.

"I think by the end of the month, certainly, we probably will have a technological solution to this particular issue," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was quoted as saying by the Politico.

The Department of Homeland Security is working to fix the bug in the system and till that happens instructions have been issued to the US Customs and Border Protection to "manually check" that the students entering the country have a valid visa.

"One of the things that we are doing now is checking manually the most recent student visa information because it changes all the time, students add, students drop, etc., with customs information, which is held in a different place. For the time being, that's actually being done manually," Napolitano said.

However, she refrained from giving details of the under what circumstances the alleged suspect succeeded in entering the country even after his visa has expired.

"I wouldn't go so far as to characterise what happened in the light of Boston in terms of materiality or anything of that nature. I think that has to await a fulsome investigation," she said.

In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, several lawmakers and think tanks have called for filling the gap in the visa checking procedure.

"It's surprising that the administration isn't already verifying that any student coming into the country has a valid student visa. What's more concerning is that nearly 12 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we haven’t fixed the problems with identifying visa overstays," said Senator Chuck Grassley.

Last week, federal agents were issued directive to verify, "effective immediately," that every foreign student who wants to enter the United States has a valid student visa.


First Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 10:37
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