WASHINGTON - The US Department of Homeland Security, criticized for failing to check the student status of a Kazakh man charged in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, has tightened procedures for admitting foreigners with student visas, a US official said on Friday.
The Department's Customs and Border Protection issued a memo ordering agents "effective immediately" to check all students against the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System database of international students and schools, according to an official who had seen the memo.
The department is under fire for not properly checking the student status of Azamat Tazhayakov, a friend of one of the bombing suspects, when he entered the country illegally on a student visa in January.
Tazhayakov, who had a student visa that was valid until Aug. 30, 2013, was allowed into the United States on Jan. 20, 2013, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Tazhayakov was one of three 19-year-old men charged this week with interfering with the investigation into last month's bombing by hiding a backpack and fireworks found in the dorm room of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.