Indian Students Held At Delhi Airport After Being Deported From The U.S.

At least 16 students were deported from the Atlanta airport in one day after arriving from Delhi on a Delta codeshare flight. They all had valid F1 visas to study at St. Louis University.

In a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement they “did not seem to know” the name of the university they were enrolled in. They were put on Delta’s codeshare flight back to Delhi, but held at the airport there because U.S. immigration had failed to give the students their deportation papers.

According to one of the students, she had “valid documents with her including her I-20, and university admission papers” however U.S. immigration officers found he had “visa interview preparation questions stored on” her phone.

[T]he officials grilled her about the visa questions on her phone; asked her how much she had paid for visa coaching; what the visa interview officer’s name was.

“How was I supposed to remember what the visa interview officer’s name was?” Priti said.

The officials soon informed her that she would be subject to deportation. She was given the choice of contacting the Indian Embassy; however, she was cautioned that if she were found to be lying, she could be thrown into jail.

Students asked to contact their parents but were denied because they weren’t minors. Then they asked to speak to the Indian embassy, so the embassy could contact their parents, but they were informed that the local embassy had already “closed for the day.” Then eight hours later she was on a plane back.

U.S. immigration is bureaucratic and arbitrary. Current listed wait times can exceed two years even for transit in some locations. Yet we should be allowing more people to come here and stay here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Appalling. In addition to sorely-needed substantive reforms to immigration law, we need severe consequences for immigration officials who behave like petty, vindictive tyrants.

  2. It does seem weird they wouldn’t know the name of the university they were enrolled in, but this story is full of weirdness and gaps so who knows what the truth is. If it was an english as a second language situation I would be less concerned about the student’s inability to answer questions since a) they are probably jet lagged and b) if you are detained its stressful, but mostly c) english comprehension during such a situation would be very hard. Nothing in the article stated they didn’t speak english (and one would assume they did if they were coming to the US to study). So? Who knows.

  3. No, we don’t need more people to come to the U.S. and stay. America is full. We don’t need more legals or illegals to drive down wages with an oversupply of labor, change the culture, and force their political views on people who don’t want them. We don’t need more violent groups or diversity.

    It is a shame tourists and legal visa holders are routinely abused by immigration and put through the wringer when millions of illegals can walk across the border and be given housing, phones, food, medical care, schooling, and etc. Instead of stopping violent criminals coming over the border they focus on this type of thing. Citizens are routinely harassed and mistreated by tsa but illegals go free.

  4. There has to be more to this story. Why couldn’t someone in authority at the university be a contact.

  5. I, a citizen, have been married to a non-citizen for more than 25 years.
    For her legally to come to the USA would cost more than $10K, take at least two years, and would involve very numerous and costly filings with Homeland Security. There is also at least one interview.
    Or, she just comes illegally. It’s free, instant, and there are many benefits. There are also many sources of help.
    There are no benefits if doing it legally. It’s not an accident that it’s like this.

  6. I was detained by Canadian immigration at the airport in Toronto. The only thing they said was my documents looked suspicious (everything was in order and I had no problems previously). I was there to sign off on several million dollars worth of equipment my employer was purchasing. It required my approval before it could be shipped. I was questioned by several people and after an hour and a half I told them to put me on any plane to the U.S. and I would find my way home. The company we were purchasing from was panicking and calling every government official they could find. Finally without saying a word they released me. Follow up trips we flew to Buffalo and drove across the border. It happens.

  7. We don’t need more legals and illegals to drive down wages!? Are you a moron, Jack? Half the businesses in the country wouldn’t survive without the cheap labor.

    Billy Bob, it does not cost over $10k like you say. If it does, then you are including legal fees which most don’t need or you are doing something wrong. Does it cost several thousand? Yes. $10k+? No way. If you say it does, list the expenses. Just went through this, probably cost me no more than $3k to date, on the high end.

  8. @Jack Hudson, this country needs workers. Have you not been following the news? We have a labor crisis. As the Boomers retire and die off, where do we find replacements? Millennials and GenZs aren’t having children.

    A group of Indian students who can afford to come to the US on F1 student (higher ed) visas are precisely the type of workers we need. Those legal immigrant college students with valid F1 visas may become future doctors, researchers, or IT specialists who help serve us in the US.

    And the risk that they might “change the culture” as you put it? Sure – they might dilute the pool of narrow-minded bigots like yourself.

  9. No…America does NOT need “more people”. The current administration allows unbridled access across the borders by illegal…yes ILLEGAL aliens but gawd forbid an immigrant comes here with legal authority. Something is drastically wrong but…”you voted for it” so we’re stuck with it. A wholesale enema is needed in Washington. No political party is exempt!

  10. So apparently it is an issue they did not know the name of their school but not an issue that a “travel blogger” does not know the airline that flew them?
    “It was a codeshare Tim, the operating carrier hasn’t been identified”
    So much for a supposed expert about flying.

  11. @Jack Hudson – “We don’t need more illegals coming into the country”. “We don’t need illegals to change the culture”. Just in case you’re still living in the 1970’s, the Powerhouses are India & China. American companies are hiring them because this country can’t produce the intelligence that these nations can. And WHAT culture? The US doesn’t have a culture – they’re too busy fighting each other to create ONE.

  12. I love the people who act like the US wouldn’t be able to function without immigrants- have you ever traveled to Iceland or Japan or Korea or Norway or Switzerland? Pay people living wages and the economy will figure it out

  13. And to RY above, my good friends legally immigrated to the US in March 2022. They arrived with a legal work visa sponsored by her employer. To get a “green card”, her company has spent several thousand dollars to immigration attorneys. Two weeks ago, she and her husband wrote a check for $11500.00 for the attorneys to file the necessary paperwork to get in line for a green card. Even though her husband is a legal airline pilot with FAA certification and South African certification, he can’t get a job! Even though there is a shortage of airline pilots, the requirements are “legal to work in the United States” but that means “green card”. Every airline he’s applied and actually got an interview, “We would take you right now but without the “green card”… It’s an ALPA/Teamsters union thing.

  14. @Ry, @KimmieA, @Gary, please come to France or Italy, there are many, many workers (?) our countries don’t need, freshly arrived: they will be delighted to visit USA. All you have to do is to build a few mosques and Koranic schools to accommodate them properly.

  15. The underlying story was very strangely written.

    1. As Tim notes, Delta doesn’t fly its own metal between ATL and India. (In fact, a cursory check indicates nobody flies non stop between ATL and DEL.) So bother calling out Delta, instead of just naming the operating carrier?

    2. The article notes the students left on “the same flight they arrived on”. Well that’s not really possible, is it?

    3. The article refers to the students as having been “deported”, but that’s a misuse of the term. It’s more correct to say the students were refused entry to the US.

    Visa fraud is a thing, and not just in the US. There’s some border security TV show that gets filed in the UK, Canada, and Australia that gets put up on youtube. There’s more than a few episodes where immigration agents are verifying the stories of those trying to enter the respective countries, including students. So the Issuance of an F1 visa alone isn’t enough to guarantee entry.

    Given the questionable phrasing in the original story, I can’t tell what’s really going on. Not knowing the name of the school you’re going to though is a pretty big flag for further questioning.

  16. @H2oman

    Canada is weird. We used to drive up there in college (circa year 2000) and a drivers license and SS card were enough for a land crossing.

    But if you fly up, that stuff gets you hauled into secondary. On that trip, I went with my friend, who is of Indian descent. He had a passport (I didn’t even own one at the time) so he got through with no problem. When I finally got admitted, he asked what took so long and I told him.

    He said, and I quote, “so a white guy and a brown guy try to get into Canada, and they choose to hassle the white guy? Weird.”

  17. Honestly, if you wish to immigrate to America. Just fly into Mexico, cross the border illegally, and get on one of Texas Governor Abbot’s buses to New York City. At which point you get a free hotel room, and free food.

    That’s the smartest and most efficient way of doing it.

  18. Amazing how one part of our gov’t will give these legally authorized students the third degree and then they’ll just let people flow over the border never to be contacted again.

  19. Anyone Indian resident flying to the US should avoid first of all flying Delta Airlines and second avoid Atlanta Airport. I am hoping that these students and parents find away to sue Delta Airlines for this incidents. The airline took advantage of these students just to prevent them from entering the US and going to college. THIS IS A GOOD REASON FOR ME NOT FLY AND GIVE GIVE MONEY TO DELTA AIRLINES.

  20. Indian is a well known country to Have corrupt officials and millions bribe officials to buy legitimate documents like bank statements and college degrees. Thousands of Indian students fraudulently obtain US visa with fake documents and when they arrive they are. It prepared cos it is not legit . They openly discuss how to violate student visa law by working in US on social media accounts . Many don’t know the detail of their course and the college they want to attend . Bthis Indian American attorney explains on how Indian students get deported . After getting tired of being a fake amazon Microsoft and PayPal agents by working at call centers to scam Americans . They buy these documents to obtain US , Canadian and Australian visa to work overseas

  21. If they had visas, they must have been interviewed by a State Department Consular Officer few weeks back who must have done necessary paperwork and background checks. Interview with CBP at the Port of Entry should just be a formality. It is also very likely that they were going to study in Washington University in St Louis that is popular among Indian Students and not St Louis University.

  22. I wonder how visas were handled in the 1970s. We would take our bicycles and ride over to Canada at Niagara Falls in 1974, putting on close to 100 miles in a day. Since I was 15 I didn’t have any ID. Neither did my friends. We were let into Canada after a few questions and let back into the USA after a few questions. Now, even proper credentials don’t work.

  23. If you don’t know the name of your university that is a huge red flag. I studied abroad and would have known that.

  24. Why would Indian immigration in Delhi care about entry refusal papers form the US? They are Indian citizens, and have the right to enter India. It’s not like they could be refused entry and sent back to Atlanta. The part of the story about being held by Indian immigration does not ring true.

  25. To Whin Whitmire: I am a legal immigrant. I processed the application of my naturalization myself.

    Is it frustrating? Hell yes. Does it require legal aid? Absolutely not. If you can file your own taxes you can get through this process, too. If you do not speak the language, or no internet access, or have complications, then legal aid is needed.

    Depending on your wife’s status, origin and background, she may qualify for this for free (check online resources). There are a few thousand dollars involved for paperwork, shipping, doctors test, etc. But the most taxing thing in the process is how slow it moves, how bureaucratic it is, how random things can disturb the whole process, and how non-communicative the people are that are determining your future. It takes hours to get a hold of someone, and their standard answer is “it is in process and we can’t give you any further details”.

    I also managed my son’s green card on my own and – again – the most frustrating part was how slow it moved, and how impossible it was to get a hold of someone. BTW – my sons process ran through COVID so that certainly did not make things easier.

    But yes, you can do this yourself at relatively little cost provided you are ready to be frustrated by endless repetition of paperwork and endless indetermined wait times.

  26. Poor Points Guy… his only calling in life was to share useful travel information with the masses!
    The intelligent amongst us will ALWAYS appreciate him for that.
    However, their has always been the danger of coming across Trolls while traveling. They can pop up anytime and anywhere, even on travel blogs.
    One always smell a Troll by the stentch of hate they so freely poor out into the world. They will facetiously remind you who they hate including Alphabet people, ANYONE with a permanent tan, folks who dont speak their language, or worship their God (who apparently lives in Florida). If you’re light, bright, & wealthy enough, you might be able to sneak pass them. They are too blind to see Human Beings, they only see threats to their supermacist social order. Money is their weakness tho. You can easily own their souls if you have enough of it. This is why they love traveling to the homelands of the beings they hate. Their powerful dollars allow them to live like kings amongst the poor and exploited. However, don’t you dare allow these same folks to come visit the land of the Trolls! Stop them at all cost – especially along the “Easy Route” – where these immigrant beings travel hundreds of miles by Foot through Jungle & desert, avoiding human traffickers, gangs, wild animals, etc to arrive at a booby trapped river of barbed wire and armed law enforcement that have be infiltrated by other trolls who are all too happy to shoot them, take their children, then lock them up and rape them for even thinking they could have a better life in “The Land of The Free.”
    The Trolls get especially upset at the thought of allowing these Beings a seat at the University where their c-student daughters couldn’t get into – after all, shes a Blonde! The Trolls worst nightmare is the thought of their daughters having to serve coffee to one of these uppity immigrants, who has graduated from one of THEIR Universities, before their first class flight back to India – it simply upsets the “natural” order of things…. so some trolls even infiltrate customs to prevent that from happening too. Yes the Trolls are everywhere… even on this comment thread!

  27. None of us were there. And we are all surmising. So let me give my guess of what might have happened. The Indians would have pronounced the name in a typical Indian accent. The Immigration Officer, on his ego trip, would have pretended not to understand. And to convince himself that his 2-inch dick was actually 8 inches, would have made fun of the student for his inability to pronounce the American way. And then you have the rest of the story.

    No one is going to risk thousands of dollars on fake admission rackets. If the aim is to enter illegally, choosing the student route is the stupidest route. I’m reasonably sure these Indian students are not THAT dumb.

  28. Please note these two states(Andhra/Telangana) are from India and are very famous for faking all kinds of documents, including education, finance, experience, etc. certificates. Before landing in the USA, they claim they are students and have no experience in the IT field, as soon as they land in the US, their experience automatically becomes 0 to 10 years. They are cheating all IT companies, and genuine candidates suffer because of these fake guys. They dodge all kinds of interviews(Audio/Video), GRE/TOFEL, and potential candidates are taking the back seat. If USCIS verifies their previous H1b filings, thousands of candidates from the above states will be in serious trouble. They tune the date of birth to accommodate fake experience and to file H1b. Students will be trained in their respective consultancies on how to lie and dodge USCIS questions and also provide fake financial documents to clear an F1 visa interview.

  29. Jerry,

    Where I go in Norway, there are often immigrants. Oslo’s hospitality companies are more or less inoperable without lots of foreign labor. The small islands’ and other small Norwegian town grocery stores far from Oslo are often staffed by people who speak so little or such poor Norwegian (if any) that I cannot communicate with them despite having no such problem with most Norwegians. The Norwegian health care sector has a lot of immigrants working in that field.

    A sign of a successful country is how many working immigrants it attracts to keep its economic engine going without going the way of Japan. How likely and how many highly educated and other high potential immigrants want to go a place for work is a sign of success — and in this regard let’s not kid anyone: Japan is yesterday’s news.

  30. Saamy,

    Fake credentials and fraudulently acquired ones are a problem throughout India, but I would say it’s probably even more likely in problem in the Modi-supporting heartlands of North India than in South India.

  31. Joseph,

    This past weekend, I just ran into several dozen college-aged American students who came to Sweden to study at Swedish schools. A lot of them were incapable of properly pronouncing which schools they were to attend or even slaughtering the names or even translations. Should they be deported back to the US for that?

    The fact of the matter is that the busy bodies at CBP try to show the rest of the USG that they are the hot shots and so often think they are better at weeding out questionable immigrants than the visa-issuing State Department folks.

    Think it’s long overdue that we strip guns from CBP employees working at US airports of entry and require they have new uniforms that are more nerd appropriate.

  32. Last year when I entered the US on a tourist trip, the immigration agent at JFK was a lovely person who had a nice conversation with me and couldn’t have been friendlier. But she had a thick East European(?) accent and butchered a few English words herself. What irony!

  33. From what I’m reading at other sites, they many of these students (over 100) had fraudulent paperwork, as well as had been actively looking for work once they were admitted into the U.S. (F1 visas prohibit working, iirc.) Some of them could hardly speak English, so it could well be more student visa fraud, like what has happened in Australia and Canada.

  34. Adding my two cents in here as someone who worked in International Education and has an idea what is going on with this particular type of school….

    These are students coming to “Day 1 CPT” universities which mean the students are coming here to work full time and only study part time. It is in the grey area of legality, as it is seen as visa fraud for your intention to be different than the visa you enter on.

    This is a case of students coming here on a student visa to work, not study. That’s likely why they were deported, this article is written pretty terribly to not mention this.

  35. As a graduate student I can attest to others claiming that a lot students from India attend universities fraudulently with forged paperwork. You can tell when your group members can’t speak english and steal full paragraphs from the internet to paste as their own work.

    A lot of the professors started catching on and began reporting the incidents to the department chair. It was only this summer that he mandated that all students are required to take written exams on campus.

    We used to have 3000 international students now there is just 80.

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