Looking for a Student Visa? Do your Research
The U.S. offers a variety of visa options designed for foreign students to obtain an education at some of the country’s most prestigious and well-known universities. Unfortunately, some students learned the hard way that Tri-Valley University was not one of those institutions. In fact, it was a sham school designed to issue phony documents to students so that they could obtain student visas, while providing virtually no educational value.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has started to crack down on schools like Tri-Valley University in recent years, with reports that 5 – 10 schools have been closed amongst allegations of immigration fraud. The difficulty for students abroad is that some of these phony institutions actually appear legitimate online. Also, since the school issues the student a visa, it is easy for young, foreign students to accept that the school must be legitimate.
But students looking to come to the U.S. should be extremely cautious when deciding which school to attend. Every effort should be made to verify information on the school’s website. Ideally, the student could visit the school in the U.S. before receiving their visa to ensure that it is a properly functioning university.
Understandably, a student may not have this option, and may not have any reason to doubt the university’s legitimacy until they actually enter the U.S. But once it becomes clear that a school is not offering any courses, the foreigner must decide what to do next. One option would be transferring to a legitimate university; another would be reporting the school to ICE. At no point should the student engage in work which they are not authorized to perform, as this could lead to major problems down the road.
Just ask some of the Indian students who attended Tri-Valley University. Even though they were led to believe they could work full-time jobs, they were not only returned to India once their visas were revoked, but were also required to wear ankle monitors by U.S. authorities. While this may seem a bit extreme for students who were scammed by a U.S. institution, it teaches a valuable lesson: You can never be “too safe” when it comes to your immigration status in the U.S.
For further information regarding student visas or any other immigration matters, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.