BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Area college students who live in Canada and commute to class should prepare for even longer delays at the border thanks to a new directive handed down by the Department of Homeland Security.
The new policy, which is 'effective immediately', orders all Customs and Border Protection agents to check the student visa status of all international students looking to enter the United States.
It is a move that caught many commuting Canadian students by surprise Friday morning.
"They were late for their exams so they wanted to let me know that there was an issue at the border and that they were checking their SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) I.D.'s and they pulled in every International student that crossed this morning," said Laryssa Petryshyn, Director of the International Student Office at D'Youville College in Buffalo.
At D'Youville alone, more than 10 percent of the students live in Canada and make the trip over the border.
Many of these students have their SEVIS status checked each time they are issued a new visa, which could be yearly or each semester. However, it's expected that these students would be pulled in to the secondary inspection area each time they cross the border to have their status verified, possibly adding hours to their commute.
"They are a little bit frustrated. They do understand. When they were pulled in they were treated respectfully," said Petryshyn of the students who were delayed Friday.
The move marks the first security change enacted as a direct result of the Boston Marathon bombings. It comes after it was revealed that one of the suspects in the bombing cover-up entered the United States on an expired student visa.
Eyewitness News has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment and clarification on how the policy will be enforced, but our calls and e-mails were not returned as of Friday night.
For now, universities are telling their students to plan ahead, especially as finals get underway.
"Leave early, give yourself extra time..... Be patient," Petryshyn advises.
Local border officials have said they will make an effort to process students first to help save them some time.