Department of Homeland Security officials said Friday that they are improving the student visa system after a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev re-entered the country with an invalid visa.
The officials said the department was “reforming the student visa system” to make sure customs and border officers get almost instant updates on visa information.
Azamat Tazhayakov, a Kazakh student and friend of Tsarnaev, re-entered the United States in January with a visa that was no longer valid because he had stopped attending classes at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. That information was apparently not relayed to customs officers.
Tazhayakov, 19, was among three friends arrested earlier this week and charged with helping remove evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room or with lying about it to federal authorities.
Tazhayakov had attended classes with Tsarnaev.
Foreign students living in the United States to attend college must obtain a visa known as an F-1. The government issued 385,000 of them and denied 154,000 in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the State Department.
This story was originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 12:26 PM EDT