MLF Attorney Stepanova Publishes on F-1 Problems

Remember Tri-Valley University? The one that left hundreds of foreign students high and dry as it collapsed in a hail of indictments, when ICE investigators found it had fraudulently obtained government permission to enroll them? TVU is a cautionary tale for any lawyer who handles F-1 visas. That’s the point of an article in the July / August edition of the AILA Voice, by Anna Stepanova, a Supervising Attorney in the Special Projects department at the Murthy Law Firm. [See Enjoying the Fruits of One’s Labor: Navigating F-1 Status, by Anna Stepanova, AILA Voice, July / August 2013.]

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up enforcement efforts in response to the problems at TVU, and other schools like it, meaning that students – and their attorneys – must take the greatest of care to ensure compliance with each and every requirement of the F-1 program. To help immigration attorneys to better protect their F-1 clients, Ms. Stepanova’s article maps out the common pitfalls that can lead to problems for foreign students here:

  • taking too many online courses
  • enrolling in less than the full-time study required to maintain F-1 visa status
  • taking Curricular Practical Training (CPT) without meeting key requirements as to the timing and integral nature of the training to the student’s curriculum.

Many of these issues can be avoided from the start, Stepanova writes, when the F-1 students and their attorneys take care to avoid problem schools – places that “encourage and even facilitate F-1 status violations by aggressively advertising significant benefits to prospective students above and beyond what reputable universities or colleges can offer.” In other words, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Students already facing status problems need not abandon all hope, however. Stepanova outlines some key strategic considerations for lawyers seeking to help F-1 clients to overcome a status violation. Her contribution is of a piece with the Murthy Law Firm’s tradition of public service: sharing our knowledge and expertise with the legal community and the international clients we all are privileged to serve.

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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.