A day after Air India stopped 19 Indian students from boarding a US-bound flight from Hyderabad on grounds that the two universities to which they had been admitted were under "scrutiny", the universities have denied reports of them being "blacklisted" by the US government.
According to Air India, it had received communication from US Customs and Border Protection agency that two universities- Silicon Valley in San Jose, California and North Western Polytechnic College in Fremont, California- are under scrutiny.
The Northwestern Polytechnic University in a notice published on its social media page said, "It has been brought to the attention of Northwestern Polytechnic University officials that false reports are being disseminated by certain media outlets and other groups that Northwestern Polytechnic University has been blacklisted by the United States government. These reports are absolutely and completely false."
It further states that "no U.S. government agency has 'blacklisted' NPU and that there is no general order for U.S. Customs officers to refuse entry into the U.S. by NPU students."
The university will discuss the issue with Air India officials and US embassy personnel to resolve this misunderstanding as soon as possible, it added.
The Silicon Valley University on its website wrote that following the Paris attacks and other unseen terrorist activities, stricter security measures are being implemented by the US Customs and Border Protection.
"Recently there are some rumor on SVU has been targeting to proceed extra screening measures or even alleging SVU has been 'blacklisted'. These rumors are absolutely false. SVU is valid educational institution. Students at SVU are not being targeted and safe to study in the US," it said in its statement.
"It's nothing to do with the school," Jerry Shiao, president and academic dean of Silicon Valley University, told Contra Costa Times News.
On Sunday, 19 Indian students were stopped by Air India from boarding their San Francisco-bound flight at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.
The airline in a statement said 14 other students who had earlier gone to San Francisco on Air India flights to the same universities were later deported and not allowed to enter the US. The airline stopped the 19 students to spare them from being "inconvenienced", a PTI report states.
"Students travel on a one-way ticket to the US and, in the event of deportation, incur huge expenditure to buy a ticket back to India on first available service. Further, seats are often not available on any airlines to travel back," the Air India statement said, according to PTI.
"Considering the situation, as a precautionary measure and to avoid inconvenience, students booked for travel to take admission to these universities are not being accepted on Air India flights," it added.
While the national carrier has offered a full refund to all students, it has also said that it will not accept any students who have secured admission in these two universities until it gets clearance for their travel from Air India's US office.
Deepak, one of the 14 students who were deported to India, told PTI that they had been issued valid visas after they were given clearance by the US Department of Homeland Security. "If the universities were blacklisted, why did they issue us the visa?" he asked.