Growing US visa concerns after the disappearance of Burundi teens

The Latest on Burundi teenagers missing after an international robotics competition in Washington, D.C. (all times local):

The disappearance of six Burundi teens this week from an international robotics competition in the nation’s capital is casting a spotlight on the visa process used to admit competitors.

D.C. police are continuing to investigate the disappearance, though they say there are no indications of foul play. Two of the six teens were seen crossing the border into Canada.

Event organizers believe the teens may have planned their disappearance in an apparent attempt to avoid return to Burundi.

The teens entered the country on visas that were valid for one year. But experts say the actual length of time was likely restricted to a matter of days or weeks by Customs and Border Patrol agents when they entered the U.S.

The coach for six teens from Burundi who disappeared after an international robotics competition in Washington says he heard rumors that they might try to stay in the United States.

Speaking from Kenya as he made his way home, Canesius Bindaba told The Washington Post that he’d heard rumors that the teens might be planning to stay, but he hoped they weren’t true.

Bindaba says he tried to build trust. He says he feels “cheated and disappointed by those who planned this behind my back.”

The teens ranging in age from 16 to 18 were reported missing after the FIRST Global Challenge this week. FIRST Global Challenge. Police now say that two of the six were seen crossing into Canada and they don’t suspect foul play with any of them.

Organizers of an international robotics competition in the U.S. capital believe the disappearance of six teens from Burundi may have been “self-initiated.”

As the competition was wrapping up Tuesday, their chaperone discovered his kids were missing. He looked in the college dorms where the six teens – ages 16 to 18 – had been staying. Their bags were packed and gone. Later two of the teens were spotted crossing into Canada.

Police say they don’t expect any foul play.

A member of the Burundi-American community says he has little doubt the teens are seeking asylum, though he emphasized he had no direct knowledge of the situation.

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