May 14, 2013, Louisville, KY- The long-awaited immigration reform bill is now in the mark-up stage and Senators are debating the close to 300 amendments added to the sweeping legislation. Taking center stage in the debate today was student visas, which will have an impact of the University of Louisville, and border security.

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Before the Boston Marathon bombing student visas, though important, were somewhat lost on the mainstream, taking a back seat to other issues like a pathway to citizenship and border security, following that tragedy which took three lives and injured close to 200 people, our immigration visa system has come under scrutiny.

The bombing investigation revealed some staggering weaknesses in the visa system. The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was allowed to reenter the country without detection after spending several months in Russia with an extremist Islamic group. The Russians flagged Tsarnaev, but a human error allowed him to elude the FBI.

Also adding fuel to the debate was the revelation that a young man from Kazakhstan with a U.S. student visa helped the Tsarnaev brothers hide evidence after the bombing.

These two revelations compelled lawmakers to add amendments to the immigration bill that would make it easier to track visa holders and cut down on visa fraud, the Louisville Courier reported.

The two amendments added by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley will likely make it into the final draft of the bill.

The first of Grassley’s amendments would require the Department of Homeland Security enter student visa information into the U. S. Customs and Border Protection database. Failing to do so within 120 days of the bill’s enactment, would mean no student visas will be granted until the database is complete.

“This will plug a loophole in terms of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y said, according to the Louisville Courier. “It really strengthens the bill and shows that our bill … is going to make things better in terms of terrorism.”

Grassley’s second amendment will stiffen accreditation requirements for schools that host foreign students. It would also forbid flight schools from granting student visas unless they are certified by the Department of Homeland Security, the Courier explained.

While Senators approved some or the proposed immigration amendments, there were some that failed in the committee process. Two amendments introduced by Senator Jeff Sessions, one which would limit the number of future immigrants, and the second would require the implementation of a biometric system to track immigrants, were both voted down.

The immigration reform bill is not nearly complete, but is still being closely watched.

Getting a visa whether it is work, student of family visa is no small task. The application process alone is daunting especially if the English is not the applicant’s native language. If you are an immigrant and need help with a visa or green card, you really need the guidance of Louisville immigration attorney Rusty O’Brien, who can take you through the process step-by-step and make sure you are successful with the legalization process.

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