Murthy Takes Action: TVU Update27 May 2011
Issues arising from the Tri-Valley University (TVU) raid in January 2011 continue to plague former students of that institution. The Murthy Law Firm and lawyers from other firms have been involved in efforts to assist former TVU students as they seek to regain lawful status in the United States. Following is a summary of some recent meetings between U.S. and Indian officials.
Murthy Law Firm Participates it Meetings at Indian Embassy
The Murthy Law Firm was contacted by many affected TVU students in the days immediately following the January 2011 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid and closure of TVU. Some students were placed in removal (formerly deportation) proceedings due to the abrupt termination of their F-1 status following the raid. Others were told by ICE agents that they should report in, which would likely have resulted in removal action. Efforts to assist them in regaining legal status and avoiding removal included meetings at the Embassy of India in Washington DC.
With the goal of protecting Indian citizens in the United States, the Embassy of India organized meetings with high-level U.S. government officials. The first meeting took place in early March 2011; the second in mid-April. Attorneys from the Murthy Law Firm met with Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar; Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Arun K. Singh; Louis M. Farrell, Director, Student and Exchange Visa Program (SEVP), as well as other senior officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Goal of Meetings at the Indian Embassy
The goal of the meetings was to facilitate the availability of options to enable former TVU students to remain in the United States legally. The Embassy of India wanted to help TVU students from India with legal options such as resuming F-1 status through different schools, changing to alternative statuses, and traveling abroad to reenter the United States in one of a number of potentially appropriate statuses. It was requested that notices to appear (NTAs), issued in connection with removal hearings, be terminated to facilitate other options.
Sheela Murthy, founder and president of Murthy Law Firm, and Aron Finkelstein, the managing attorney, attended both meetings and raised legal issues with the U.S. government officials present. Concerns were expressed regarding the treatment of the students as status violators, when the government had not yet de-certified TVU and had improperly terminated the students’ records in the SEVIS database without notice.
Conflicting Statements by U.S. Officials
During the meetings, the U.S. government officials indicated an intent to treat TVU students favorably and allow reinstatement to F-1, or a change of status to H1B or H-4 (or other appropriate nonimmigrant status), for otherwise eligible students. However, this intent has not materialized. ICE has continued to issue NTAs. Investigators have continued to search for students, and those who have requested changes of status are encountering significant resistance, delays, or denials that contradict the intentions that were expressed to the Indian government.
Coordination of Efforts
While attorneys from across the United States are encountering ongoing challenges with former TVU students, a handful are sharing their experiences and analyses with their colleagues. A coordination of efforts is underway to determine appropriate legal options to help TVU students and to challenge the U.S. government over its handling of TVU and former TVU students. Various organizations, like the Indian-American Bar Association and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) are working to address concerns of the affected students. The matter is complex, as it extends across the United States, involving local ICE offices and ICE counsels.
We at the Murthy Law Firm continue to work towards a favorable resolution to the plight of the former TVU students. We are sympathetic to the difficulties faced, brought on by the government’s abrupt termination of these students’ SEVIS records. Many of the students are innocent victims, unaware of the allegedly improper documents used by the school to obtain SEVP certification, as well as other claims to improper procedures within the school. TVU students who have not yet addressed their status issues should obtain qualified legal guidance to learn the options available to them without further delay.
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