February 9, 2016

International students face immigration issues at airports

Studying abroad might be fun for many students, but struggles and hassles can be part of international travel to the U.S.

Students can be stopped and held at airports for extended periods of time on multiple occasions.

Hussain Alruwaili, an international student at Cleveland State University, has encountered difficulties with immigration.

“I got stopped for five hours this time when I came back,” Alruwaili said. “This is not my first time getting stopped at the airport, and I have heard that some people had the same problems as me.”

“This is very frustrating,” Alruwaili added. “If you have connecting flights and you got stopped at immigration, get ready to miss your next flight.”

International travel to Cleveland often involves multiple connecting flights.

Students who are held for questioning can anticipate a delay that causes them to miss both their baggage and additional flights.

The Center for International Services and Program (CISP) at Cleveland State said it can do nothing about the questioning as the immigration system is operated directly by the U.S. government.

One of the common reasons that international students can be held at immigration is because they have multiple accounts in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

SEVIS is a web-based system that maintains information on non-immigrant students, who are F and M visa holders – categories based on the academic institution they are attending – in the United States.

Regina Motiejunas-McCarthy, manager of International Student Services at Cleveland State, said in an advising meeting that it is normal and fine for students to have several accounts in the SEVIS system if they pursued multiple degrees in the states.

CISP suggested that students should make sure they have all the documents needed for their entry and that their I-20, a certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status, is signed and activated before re-entering the States.

If a student is stopped and questioned, do not give false information or forged documents — as this can lead to legal complications even if the student has legal status.


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