India says students in TVU should be allowed to study in US

With hundreds of Indian students of California-based Tri Valley University facing an uncertain future, Government on Wednesday said it has asked US authorities to allow them to study elsewhere in that country.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 18:36 PM IST

New Delhi: With hundreds of Indian
students of California-based Tri Valley University facing an
uncertain future, Government on Wednesday said it has asked US
authorities to treat them as victims of fraud and allow them
to study elsewhere in that country.
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi,
replying to a question in Lok Sabha, said the matter has been
taken up with US department of Homeland Security, Department
of Justice, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement requesting
them to treat the students as "victims of fraud and not
criminals".

The Tri Valley University (TVU) was shut down on
charges of massive visa fraud affecting hundreds of Indian
students, who were studying in the university.

Ravi said the government has also requested the US
authorities to allow the students to pursue studies in other
American universities.

According to a federal complaint filed in a California
court in January, the University helped foreign nationals
illegally acquire immigration status. The University is said
to have 1,555 students. As many as 95 per cent of these
students are Indian nationals, the complaint said.
"The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is
currently probing the visa violation (charges) against some of
the Indian students. Simultaneously directors/owners of
Tri-Valley university are also being investigated," Ravi said.

He said External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had also
taken up the issue with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
last week requesting her to intervene in protecting the
interest of Indian students and allow them to study in other
US universities.

Investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) have found that while students admitted to various
residential and on-line courses of the University were stated
to be living in California, but in reality they "illegally"
worked in various parts of the country as far as Maryland,
Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Ravi said officials from Indian embassy and consulates
general at San Francisco and New York met the students and
briefed them about the efforts being made to protect their
interests. He said a free legal aid camp was also organised by
the Consulate General at San Francisco for the 140 students.

Asked about voting rights for NRIs, he said any Indian
citizen living abroad and who has not acquired citizenship of
any other country can make an application in form 6A directly
to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of his or her
constituency for entry of their names in voters` list.

"Every eligible NRI may send the application along
with necessary documents either directly or by post to the
ERO," he said.

The Government had issued a gazette notification
earlier this month giving voting rights to the NRIs.
Parliament had in the monsoon session passed Representation of
People (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to allow NRIs to vote in Indian
elections.

PTI