The US on Thursday regretted the impact of deportation of Indian students bound for two California schools and said it was closely following the situation after the incident, facts of which were still being collected. The statement by the US Ambassador Richard Verma came a day after India advised its students to defer their travel to the US till the matter of denial of entry to those students holding valid visas was resolved. “The Embassy is aware of reports that some students bound for two California schools were denied entry by Customs and Border Protection. We regret the impact this may have had on certain students and their families. “We are following this situation closely and have been in regular communication with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Government of India. Facts are still being collected,” Verma said in a statement here.
He also maintained that the US will continue to strongly support educational study and exchange programmes for Indian and US students, as these programmes have been a hallmark of the bilateral relationship for decades. External Affairs Ministry yesterday had issued an advisory noting that there have been several instances of denial of entry by the US Immigration authorities to Indian students having valid student visas to pursue studies in two educational institutions, namely, Silicon Valley University at San Jose and Northwestern Polytechnic University, Fremont. “Government of India has taken up this matter with the US Government. We have asked the US authorities to explain the reasons for denial of entry on a large scale to Indian students holding valid visas. The response of the US Government is awaited. “Till such time the matter is satisfactorily resolved, the students seeking admission in aforementioned two institutions are advised to defer their travel to the United States,” the advisory had said.
Noting that educational ties between the US and India are strong and growing rapidly, Verma said during academic year 2014-15, the number of Indian students studying in the US increased by nearly 30 per cent over the previous year to more than 130,000, the highest number on record. He also pointed out that even travellers 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 traveller cannot adequately answer questions about the purpose of his or her travel to the United States. “We also remind students considering studying in the United States of the free services provided by Education USA (educationusa.state.gov). Education USA’s centres throughout India and its website can assist students in choosing the most appropriate school for their course of study and personal situation.
“As additional information becomes available, we will provide updates to potential travellers. We will continue to strongly support educational study and exchange programs for Indian and US students, as these programs have been a hallmark of our bilateral relationship for decades,” Verma added. Air India had on Sunday night stopped 19 Indian students heading to the two Universities from boarding a flight to San Francisco citing a communication from US Customs and Border Protection agency which said that 14 Indian students have been deported as these varsities were “under scrutiny”.
India strongly raised the issue with the US. Meanwhile, the two California-based universities -Silicon Valley and Northwestern Polytechnic- claimed that they have been told by the US Customs and Border Protection that they have not been blacklisted by the US Government or any of its agencies.