ImmigrationDHS cracks down on sham universities

Published 17 August 2011

DHS officials are cracking down on sham universities that make millions of dollars by preying on foreign students, especially those from India, with promises of student visas; in January, officials shut down Tri-Valley University in California on suspicion of visa fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering; officials believe that the university made millions of dollars by giving foreign nationals illegally obtained student visas

Entrance to UNVA, raided by ICE officials // Source: educationsun.com

DHS officials are cracking down on sham universities that make millions of dollars by preying on foreign students, especially those from India, with promises of student visas.

Last week, speaking on a trip to India, Reta Jo Lewis, the special representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs with the State Department, said, DHS “has leads on [such institutions and they are looking into it.” Lewis’s comments come in response to the closing of a fake university earlier this year. In January, officials shut down Tri-Valley University in California on suspicion of visa fraud, mail fraud, wire, fraud, and money laundering. Officials believe that the university made millions of dollars by giving foreign nationals illegally obtained student visas.

When the school was shuttered, more than 1,000 foreign students, mostly from India, were suddenly stripped of their student status. India objected to the treatment of the school’s students, which many claimed to be the victim of fraud. As a result, the United States has changed its tactics to focus on the schools themselves rather than students.

Most recently, late last month ICE officials raided the University of Northern Virginia (UNVA) on suspicion that it was committing visa fraud and making millions from foreign students. Unlike students at Tri-Valley, several of whom were arrested and required to wear GPS trackers on their ankles, none of UNVA’s 2,400 students – 90 percent of which are from India – have been arrested, detained, or forced to wear electronic monitors.

In addition, rather than shutting down the university at once, UNVA has been given a month’s notice in which it can offer an explanation. During that time students have three options, they can continue at the university while it is still open, transfer to another school, or return to their home country. Furthermore, students’ visas will not be terminated and will remain valid for their present stay, giving them time to transfer to another school.

Lewis said that the U.S.-India relationship is crucial and the United States is eager to have more students and researchers from India.

“Numerous U.S. colleges want to expand their relationship…Leaders [from the two countries] can continue to further the educational stride,” she said.

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