Tuesday night, Etihad Airways prevented boarding of 20 Indian students with F-1 visas specifically to two universities in the US. Just a couple of days back, 19 students were barred from boarding an Air India flight as they were heading to ‘blacklisted universities’ in California. Also, few students were deported from the Abu Dhabi airport, which is an immigration clearance point for those who are heading to the US.
An official statement from Etihad Airways stated that, "Students travelling from India to the United States with Etihad Airways have not been accepted for travel due to visa irregularities identified during checks carried out by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Abu Dhabi International Airport. This involves students of Indian nationality travelling on F-1 visas specifically to two universities in the US."
Group of students belonging to the two universities of Silicon Valley University (SVU) and the Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) congregated at Etihad Airways premises. They were seen questioning the officials, showing their valid tickets. Several students were made to wait for hous together to get a response from officials.
An SVU student Imraan Uz Zaman, who was not allowed to board was forced to wait for three long hours. Imraan said, "I argued with the airport authorities for three hours on Tuesday to seek a written clarification. And today (Wednesday), I was again made to wait for three hours at the Etihad office only to get clarity on the refund of my ticket fare."
Spandan Reddy, a SVU student, said, "The airline has asked us to book fresh tickets. Though they said they would refund the entire fare on our earlier ticket, the additional cost of the fresh booking will have to be borne by us."