Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, has released records from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detailing the number of Saudis living in the United States on student visas. The records report that, as of January 25, 2007, there were 9,952 “active Saudi Arabian students” in the United States, on three different types of visas.
According to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch in response to its March 24, 2006, Freedom of Information Act request 9,787 students possess F-1 visas, which are designated for foreign students pursuing a full course of academic study. Nine students possess visa type M-1, which are designated for foreign students pursuing a full course of vocational or recognized non- academic program. The remaining 156 possess visa type J-1, meant for foreign nationals who are selected by a sponsor to participate in an exchange visitor program.
According to other ICE official records dated September 6, 2005, there are 611,581 active foreign students in the United States eligible for F-1 and M-1 student and vocational visas. The same records indicated that there are 154,471 exchange visitors eligible for J-1 “exchange” visas.
Judicial Watch launched an open records investigation of the U.S. government’s policies concerning student visas following a Bush administration joint statement with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in April 2005 increasing the number of Saudi students permitted to travel to and study in the United States.
Judicial Watch’s investigation of the increase of student visas to Saudi nationals is part of its ongoing investigation of the government’s failure to protect American citizens from the threat of terrorism. On September 11th, 2001, 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers carrying out the attacks were Saudi nationals, and all of them were issued student visas.
The ICE documents are available on Judicial Watch’s Internet site, http://www.judicialwatch.org/.