Visa fraud: TVU blames Indian-origin staffer

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 23:14

Washington: As radio-tagging of scores of Indian students duped by a "sham" US university continues to
cause anger back home, the controversial institute has claimed
that one of its Indian-origin staff was responsible for the
immigration fraud and it was not directly involved in it.

Breaking its silence, the California-based Tri Valley
University (TVU), which was shut down last month, termed as
"baseless" the allegations of immigration fraud against the
institute and claimed that it had not duped any student.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought
"this baseless allegation and put a red-tape in the school
operation for a federal investigation, causing hundreds of
students to withdraw from classes (and) many instructors
requested to quit teaching for the current term.

"Also, it caused a profitable university operation to
quickly sink into negative in financial debt," Susan Su,
President and founder of the TVU, said in an e-mail to PTI.

"Starting in April, one of student assistants Anji Reddy,
who worked in TVU administrative office, teamed with another
student Ram Krista Karra, who also has a consultant company,
conducting a large cheating scheme by asking students to make
tuition payment into Ram Krista Karra`s personal account in
exchange for student I-20 and CPT approval. TVU has fired
these two individuals," the e-mail said.

The complaint against TVU before the ICE was made by
these two, Su claimed.

Hundreds of Indian students were facing deportation and
their academic career was in limbo due to the closer of the
university by the ICE. Many of them were also forced to wear
radio collars around their ankles so that US authorities can
keep track of their movements.

India has taken up the matter with the State Department
and other concerned US officials, asking them to ensure that
none of the Indian students is victimised.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna termed the
radio-tagging of the students as an "inhuman act" and demanded
severe action against those responsible.

State Department spokesman P J Crowley has, however, said
ankle monitors are used across the US as part of a standard
procedure for a variety of investigation and that this does
not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity.

The US has taken very seriously the alleged immigration
scam of Tri Valley University in California, which has mainly
affected Indian students, he told reporters yesterday.
"We take these allegations of immigration and visa
fraud very seriously. These allegations are an excellent
example of the universally damaging effects of visa fraud," he
said.

Crowley said the ICE has established a helpline for the
Indian students affected by the closure of the university.

"Those who are involved in this investigation have
been issued ankle monitors. This is widespread across the
United States and standard procedure for a variety of
investigations. It does not necessarily imply guilt or
suspicion of criminal activity," he said.

"But we are following this case closely. We are in
regular communication with officials of the Government of
India. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and ICE are
leading this investigation, and that`s about all I can say at
this point," he said in response to a question.

According to a federal complaint, the university helped
foreign nationals illegally acquire immigration status.

In the e-mail and an attached document running into eight
pages, Su claimed the TVU had not charged money from students
for visa-related documents. And only 140 students out if its
nearly 5,500 students had TVU I-20.
"Please see the attached TVU defend, and spread the
truth, to put an end of this `sham` investigation!" SHE said.

The statement that Department of Homeland Security
approved TVU`s I-17 applications which contained false
statements and misrepresentations is wrong, she said.

There was no immediate response from ICE on the claims
made by Su.

Su claimed that TVU is a Student and Exchange Visitor
Programme (SEVP)-verified and approved legitimate School that
can admit international students.

TVU charged same fee with qualified international
students as it did with US students to register in its classes
and study its material, she said.

Accusing the ICE of levying false charges against her
university, Su said it was a "sham" claim and added that it
was Reddy who cheated the students and charged money for I-20
and CPT approvals.

The federal authorities should apologise for such a
"serious" mistake, "repay for the damage done to the
University and the founder Dr Susan Su`s name and reputation,"
the e-mail said.

Every day in the past two weeks, the university has been
receiving refund claim of USD 300,000 per day.

Responding to allegations that hundreds of students
having the same residential address in an apartment in
California, Su claimed that this was done without her
knowledge by ABS Consultant firm; which was responsible for
all the international students of the university.
According to the email, TVU signed a contract with ABS
that they will receive 20 per cent of each international
student`s tuition fee as the referral fee, and their
responsibility would include recruiting, referring students,
VISA interview consultant, status change consultant,
reinstatement consultant as well as airport pickup and
accommodation.

TVU`s first hundred of international students were all
taken care of by ABS consultancy. In the admission form, all
these students gave the California address of ABS consultancy.

"When students arrive in California, they are picked up by
ABS consultancy, temporarily stay with them for a couple of
days. ABS then arrange them to stay at an apartment in the
same complex which ABS rents and charges the student for
rental fee," said the email.

In fact, Su claimed, the TUV administration office wrote
numerous DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) verification
letters to different states stating that the students`
residence is in a different state but they are attending
classes over here.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 23:14

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