Air India cancels booking of 19 students on F1 visa bound for San Francisco

2 universities under scrutiny, deportation fear: Air India.

AirIndiaBy Dileep Thekkethil

Air India on Sunday cancelled the tickets of 19 students on F1 visa, explaining that the students had gained admission to universities which are under the scrutiny of US government agencies, and the students would have been deported on reaching the US.

According to the statement of Air India, they received a directive from the US Customs and Board Protection Agency that students who arrive in San Francisco to study in the two universities that currently face a scrutiny will be deported back to India immediately.

Owing to the instruction from the US agency, the airline advised its staff not to grant boarding passes to 19 students who came prepared to fly to San Francisco from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.

“In the past, we have witnessed that students who secured admission in those institutions have been deported to India as soon as they land there. To avoid embarrassment to them and save their money, we prevented them from boarding the flight,” the official said on Monday.

An Air India official was quoted by PTI saying that the airliner will refund the full amount of the tickets to the students who got stranded at the airport.

“So far, 14 students who travelled on Air India flights to San Francisco have been deported. Students travel on a one-way ticket to the US and, in the event of deportation, incur huge expenditure to buy a ticket back to India on first available service. Further, seats are often not available on any airlines to travel back,” the statement said.

The Indian National carrier has also said that once the US government clears the two universities from its list of scrutinized institutions and the clearance is received, the students can travel to their destination without paying any additional cost.

An immigration official while talking to The Times of India told that his department had nothing to do with barring students or the airliner not allowing them inside the flight.

“The students were not issued boarding passes. It is the airline’s responsibility to clear passengers. We have nothing to do with the issue,” he said.

On the other hand, one of the universities that allegedly face scrutiny wrote on its official website that whatever campaign is currently going on against it is “absolutely false”. It also added that a few media houses and other vested groups are behind disseminating false reports that the institute has been blacklisted by the US government.

The US consulate in Hyderabad said that it has come to know about the issue and is currently gathering more information regarding the situation.

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