Department of Homeland Security ordered agents from Border Protection and U.S. Customs, effective immediately, to verify that all foreign students who want to enter the U.S. have valid student visas, said a government official on Friday.
The memo was distributed earlier in the week as a reform to the student visa system, an official said. The reform effort is to provide the government agency with updates in real time on all needed information.
News of the reform follows recent reports that two of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends might have been in the U.S. with invalid student visas. Tsarnaev and his older brother are suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings. The two friends have been charged in connection with the bombing. Both are from Kazakhstan and were charged with suspicion of obstructing justice in the case.
The two had already been in custody for suspicion of violating student visa terms, when the charges in the bombing case were placed against them.
The pair started in 2011 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth along with bombing suspect Tsarnaev.
One of the two was allowed to re-enter the U.S. January 20 even though there was a lapse in his visa, said a government official.
That outraged lawmakers who started to barrage Homeland Security with letters about the lack of communication between the different agencies under Homeland Security and pointed to a hole in the immigration system that needed to be addressed.