WSJ: Senators Call For Action on Illegal Student Visas

The Murthy Law Firm is carefully following the developments in the Tri-Valley University case. We have been in close contact with high-level officials in both the United States and Indian governments, seeking to minimize the harm to Indian students who were caught up in this difficult situation.

At the same time, U.S. immigration authorities are coming under increasing pressure to take prompt, decisive action to ferret out sham universities that are providing illegal student visas. On March 6, five Democratic senators released a joint letter to the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS, calling for onsite inspections of high-risk schools – where there are warning signs of student visa fraud – and tough new penalties for schools that engage in this. (See Senators Seek Crackdown on Illegal Student Visas,” by the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, 06.Mar.2011.)

The letter asks the federal authorities to pay special attention to “any schools that are not accredited and host large numbers of students, and who demonstrate either indicia of unreliability (e.g. predominately online schools such that the foreign national would not need to be in the United States.” (See Letter from Sens. Diane Feinstein (CA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jon Tester (MT), Charles Schumer (NY), and Bill Nelson (FL) to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and DHS Assistant Secretary John T. Morton, 06.Mar.2011.) It also asks the USCIS and DHS to:

…work with the State Department to make sure that you are sharing information about schools being granted student visas. For instance, we are told that the Tri-Valley University situation could have been avoided had the State Department known that it was approving visas for thousands of students when the school was only authorized to accept 30 foreign students per year. Entering into a memorandum of understanding with regard to information sharing will help everyone to avoid situations where schools are being given more visas by the State Department than they are authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to give.

Notably, the senators kept their discussion focused on systemic issues between the agencies involved with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and the schools that participate; they did not seek to punish foreign students who received their visas through a suspect program.

The sad part is the sense, clearly conveyed in the senators’ letter, that the entire situation – along with its unfortunate consequences for hundreds of Indian students – might have been avoided had the relevant agencies simply shared basic information with each other. We at the Murthy Law Firm are monitoring the Tri-Valley University situation closely, and will keep our readers posted on any new developments of interest to the many students and families affected by this case.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.