Claude Arnold, retired special agent of Homeland Security Investigations, said that the program invites 1.2 million foreigners into the U.S. each year.
He told told FoxNews.com that most student visa recipients take advantage of America’s system of higher education and leave when their terms expire.
But every year approximately 58,000 overstay their visas and dropout of contact with authorities.
Tens of thousands of immigrants have fallen off the government’s radar and ‘it is only a matter of time before there is some horrible act, or some act of terrorism’, according to Arnold.
He did note that the majority of those visa holders are not terrorists or spies, but some are, especially foreign enemies who ‘know how to exploit the student visa program’.
Arnold said that Iran has sent scientists to the U.S. for study, but really to gain knowledge to benefit Iran’s weapons program.
He said that Iranian students were trying to get access to aeronautical engineering programs, so they could ‘work on the delivery system for Iran’s nuclear program’.
The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are responsible for screening applicants and monitoring them once they arrive in the US.
Applicants are screened by federal agency databases that check for fingerprints of known and suspected terrorists, wanted persons, immigration law violators and criminal history records.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed about 59 percent or 139,368 people who were previously convicted of a crime, according to a 2015 report.
Hani Hanjour, the 9/11 hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, had obtained a student visa, but never showed up for class.
Hanjour wrote on his application that he desired to stay in the US for three years, but he didn’t specify the name and address of the school he claimed to be attending.
ICE has more recently cracked down on facilities that help foreigners get a student visa for a fee, but never hold classes.
According to Arnold, the schools existed only to help foreign students purchase a visa under the disguise of studying.
‘This is an example where the system worked,’ said Arnold.
He believes overstaying a visa should be a misdemeanor, which might make visa holders less likely to violate the terms.
It would would also trigger alarms if they were stopped for a traffic violation or arrested.
Source: Daily Mail