TVU president indicted on visa fraud allegations

The president of the California-based Tri-Valley University, Susan Xiao-Ping Su, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on the allegations of visa fraud and money laundering that affected nearly 1,500 Indian students.

Updated: May 04, 2011, 14:03 PM IST

Washington: The president of the
California-based Tri-Valley University, Susan Xiao-Ping Su,
has been indicted by a federal grand jury on the allegations
of visa fraud and money laundering that affected nearly 1,500
Indian students.

Su, 41, was taken into custody on Monday morning at
her Pleasanton, California, home by special agents of the
Homeland Security Investigations of the US Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE).
She made her initial appearance here in federal court
shortly after her arrest.

Su, who also served as the school`s chief executive
officer, is accused of engaging in a two-year scheme to
defraud the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by
submitting phony documents in support of Tri-Valley
University`s applications to admit foreign nationals on
student visas.

The indictment further alleges that after obtaining
such approvals, Su fraudulently issued visa-related documents
to students in exchange for "tuition and fees."

According to the indictment, Su admitted and
maintained foreign students in exchange for tuition and other
payments.

In furtherance of the F-1 visa scheme, Su also
allegedly harboured multiple Tri-Valley University
student-employees to assist her in making the false
representations to the Student and Exchange Visitor
Information System (SEVIS).

The indictment further alleges the defendant engaged
in multiple money laundering transactions totalling more than
USD 3.2 million using proceeds she derived from the visa fraud
scheme.

"Today`s indictment alleges a visa fraud scheme
through which the defendant accrued millions of dollars and
took advantage of others` eagerness to come to the United
States," said United States Attorney Melinda Haag.
"Student visas are intended to enable people from
around the world to come to this country to enrich themselves
with the wealth of educational opportunities available here,"
said ICE Director John Morton.

ICE said the "F-1" student visa programme is designed
to allow foreign nationals who are bona fide students to be
admitted to the United States on a temporary basis to study at
an approved school.

F-1 students are admitted for a temporary period
during which they are required to pursue a full course of
study at an approved school.

When a student stops pursuing a full course of study,
the duration of status ends and the temporary period for which
the individual was admitted expires.

In administering the F-1 visa program, DHS relies on
the representations made by the schools and students.

The 33 counts contained in the indictment carry
maximum penalties ranging from one to 20 years imprisonment.

The charges include wire fraud; mail fraud; visa fraud
and conspiracy to commit visa fraud; use of a false document;
making false statements to a government agency; alien
harboring; unauthorized access to a government computer and
money laundering.

According to a federal complaint filed in a California
court in January, the TVU had 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.
Investigations by US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) have found that while students were admitted
to various residential and on-line courses of the university
and on paper lived in California, but in reality they
"illegally" worked in various parts of the country as far
as Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas.

PTI