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A Student Visa Doesn’t Guarantee Entry to the US

Students who want to study in the US are facing stricter Immigration and Customs interrogations. 

Published
World
3 min read
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Earlier this month, 14 students who had enrolled in Silicon Valley University and Northwestern Polytechnic University in California, United States of America were deported after the universities were placed “under scrutiny” by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBPA). This prompted a nationwide discussion on all the perils faced by students enrolling in these “educational warehouses”.

But on December 25, it was reported by Deccan Chronicle that it isn’t just students enrolling in these “ünder scrutiny” universities on whom the US is cracking down. Students from Colorado State University and University of Iowa, ranked 61st and 46th respectively, too, were deported to Shamshabad Airport in Hyderabad.

They were reportedly sent back after they failed to answer US immigration officials’ questions at the port of entry.

An Air India plane parked at an airport. Photo used for representational purposes. (Photo: Reuters)
An Air India plane parked at an airport. Photo used for representational purposes. (Photo: Reuters)

Reports say that over 130 students have been sent back from the US in the past few days. Many even questioned the country’s move to revoke F1 visas after they had been issued to students in the first place, according to IANS.

But a statement by the US embassy in New Delhi offers clarity on the issue.

We remind the public that even travelers with a visa can be denied entry if the immigration officer finds reason to question the legitimacy of their travel documents or finds that the traveler cannot adequately answer questions about the purpose of his or her travel to the United States.

A statement by US embassy.

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Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security exercise discretion in determining the bona fides of those seeking to enter the country and need to be convinced that the intentions of the visa holder are genuine before they permit entry.

A student’s revoked visa. (Photo: Happy Schools Blog)
A student’s revoked visa. (Photo: Happy Schools Blog)

International students (F1 visa holders), H-1B, or other visa holders have to pass through Immigration and then clear Customs at the port of entry, before being allowed entry to the US.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer can ask questions about the programme of study, the fee per credit, the financing of the degree and questions about a few subjects that the student is intending to study. If a student fails to satisfactorily answer immigration officers’ questions at the port of entry, officials can further prod them. A few of the students who were deported reportedly failed to answer questions satisfactorily, reported Mercury News from the San Francisco Bay Area.

In a few cases of the students who were deported, some were grilled for 14-15 hours. They were even asked to share their WhatsApp messages and Facebook messenger messages with the officers, where they reportedly openly said that they would be working side-by-side along with their course, said a source.

Example of an F1 visa issued. 
Example of an F1 visa issued. 

But student visas are given to pursue studies; they are not for working in the US. An F-1 visa holder may work with the educational institution’s approval and supervision. But any “fishy” activity may cause detention, revocation of visa and even possible deportation.

During academic year 2014-15, the number of Indian students studying in the United States increased by nearly 30 percent from the previous year to more than 130,000 – the highest number on record.

US Embassy

The US Authorities are employing stricter screening measures at the port of entry.

About 1,000-1,200 applications for student visas are processed from Hyderabad every day. The city processes the most number of student visas in the country, an official from the US Consulate General in Hyderabad told The Quint.

Most of these students are being allowed entry after they satisfy the immigration authorities of their credentials. But only a few students, who failed to answer questions or show all relevant documents, faced deportation.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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