Amidst East Hartford Crash Investigation, Attention Turns to Student Visa Program

A plane crashed just inches away from this minivan just outside the Pratt & Whitney plant in East Hartford Tuesday (WTNH / Report-It / Frank Crandall)

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — One of the first things that the multi-agency investigation into the October 11 East Hartford crash answered was that student pilot Feras Freitekh did not have ties to terrorism.

Members of the FBI, NTSB and local law enforcement were at a Hartford address where Freitekh lived, along with classmates. The students attend American Flight Academy, also known as the Connecticut Flight Academy.

Freitekh was reportedly in the U.S. on an M1 Visa, a temporary student visa for students to attend vocational schools.

Since 9/11, rules about student visas have tightened. One of the hijackers came to the US under a student visa and several applied for them once in the US. According to information collected from Homeland Security, the use of student visas has been increasing over the past few year.

Last year, Connecticut saw an 11 percent increase in the number of approved student visas. This year, that number is on track to be even higher. Flight schools have even higher scrutiny than other types of schools, including barring students from certain countries.

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