Washington, DC – The United States on Thursday (April 11) addressed concerns raised by a communique issued a day earlier by the Embassy of India here. The Indian Embassy advisory for students seeking admission in US universities listed additional guidelines to consider, saying that a US university being included in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) of the US is not sufficient assurance of its authenticity.
Replying to a question raised by IAT, a US State Department spokesperson refuted the allegations in the Embassy release that allegedly guilty Indian students, “were caught unawares.”
On background, the State Department spokesperson told IAT, “All participants in the University of Farmington scheme knew that the school had no instructors or classes—neither online nor in-person—and were aware they were attempting to fraudulently remain in the United States.”
“We offer a free service, EducationUSA, to assist international students and their families in understanding our higher education system, and in selecting an accredited college or university,” clarified the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said, “International students are a valuable asset to our universities and economy and enrich our communities through their diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences,” adding, “We are proud that the total number of Indian students in the United States has more than doubled over the last decade—to 196,000 last year.”
The spokesperson assured prospective students: “Indian students who travel to the United States to attend legitimate universities have no cause for concern.”
Indian Embassy Advisory
Earlier in a communique titled, “Advisory for Indian Students,” the Embassy of India cited “instances of “fake” Universities set up by the US law enforcement agencies have come to light. According to the US law enforcement, these Universities are run by undercover law enforcement agents of the US, who pose as owners and employees of the University. The sole objective of such operations is to identify recruiters and entities engaged in immigration fraud in the US.”
The advisory listed examples of such incidents saying, “The most recent examples of such Universities are the University of Northern New Jersey set up in 2013 and of Farmington University established in 2015 by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the Department of Homeland Security of the United States. In both cases, a number of Indian students enrolled into these Universities, paid the requisite tuition fee and were granted F1 visa as well as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) permission.”
Reflecting the claims from the affected students, the advisory said: “These Indian students, many of whom claimed later that they were caught unawares, were subsequently detained by US law enforcement agencies and subjected to deportation proceedings. They were accused of having violated the US immigration laws and of knowingly remaining enrolled in a “fake” University for the sole purpose of continuing their stay in the United States without the intention of pursuing any academic activity.”
Cautioning the Indian students to avoid such “traps,” the Embassy communique advised that “due diligence be exercised while seeking admission in US Universities. The fact that a University is duly accredited by relevant US authorities such as its inclusion in the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVIS), is not an assurance in itself about the bonafides of a University.”
The Embassy advisory further asked the prospective students to focus on the following points:
“Before seeking admission in a University, students are advised to take into account several other factors, some of which are outlined below:
Does the University function from a campus or merely maintains a website and has administrative premises only? If not, such Universities are not to be regarded as a bonafide educational institution and admission into such Universities should be avoided.
Does the University have a faculty and regular instructors/educators? If not, admissions to such Universities should be avoided. It may be noted that such Universities typically employ only administrative staff and their websites have no information in respect of faculty.
Does the University have a proper curriculum, hold regular classes and actively implement academic or educational activity? If not, admissions to such Universities may be avoided. Students admitted to such Universities, even if in possession of regular student visa may be tried for violation of visa norms and subjected to detention and subsequent deportation from the US.”
On the whole, the Embassy called the advisory as “not exhaustive and intended only to provide general guidance to the students in taking the right decision while seeking admission in US Universities.”
There has been a history of Indian students aiming to get admissions to any college or university, based in the US – to avail of prospects of staying in the country. Recently about 600 foreign students, 90 percent of them Indians, found themselves enrolled in a fake University of Farmington floated by the US authorities under a sting operation. There have been other US Universities also which were targeted by the US Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm earlier, leading to arrests and deportations.