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Tri-Valley University Immigration Scandal: Help for Affected Students
The situation of Tri-Valley University admissions, specifically with regards to admissions of Indian students, has snow balled into a large issue. In fact, it has become a diplomatic issue between India and the US because of the tagging done on the students and the remarks of the US consulate members. It is important to look at it from the standpoint of the people who are affected the most - the students whose lives and careers are in peril! We contacted a leading Immigration Attorney in Houston Texas, Sunita Kapoor for her views on the subject. These views should not be construed as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with her. If you have further questions or need detailed advise, please contact her office directly at 713-782-3332. Ms. Kapoor talked to SEVIS officer and discussed the situation in general. This could help the students who are affected.
Question: Can you please give us some overview of the Tri-Valley Issue?
Generally foreign students need to attend full time school to maintain their immigration status. Any school to admit foreign students has to be approved by SEVIS. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System(SEVIS) is the computerized system that collects and maintains information on the current status of non-immigrant students, exchange visitors, and their dependents during their stay in the United States.
Tri-Valley Univesity appeared as an approved school in the SEVIS list on February 17, 2009. Apparently later in the year Tri- Valley University issued I-20 to students stating that they could attend online classes. Also, issued Curricular Practical Training known as CPT (which allows the student to work in the field related to their coursework) to students without having attended classes online or on campus. The whole matter is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations(HSI) and trying to see how to deal with this. The purpose is that the guilty parties must face the consequences and innocent must be protected.
Question: In your opinion, Ms Kapoor, how can the students help themselves? Any word from the relevant Officers in the department handling the case?
As per a phone conversation with SEVIS Officer, the information is being released to schools to start admitting the students and the schools at this time can issue I-120 even though the Tri-Valley students' SEVIS accounts are blocked. Further the students are even allowed to start attending the classes as an exception in this case because otherwise any one present in the United States on as a nonimmigrant changing status to F-1 foreign student in the United States is not allowed to attend classes after being admitted in the school until he or she applies with the USCIS( United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and approved with the change of their status.
Homeland Security Investigations agent has confirmed that the Immigration may decide case to case basis and students who were enrolled for a year or so and have not attended classes are in violation of their status. Students are being contacted by ICE and may be put in removal proceedings. It is recommended that the students should not talk to Immigration/ICE on their own or try to volunteer information. They must take help of an immigration attorney.
Question: Any final thoughts?
It is important to understand how and why the University managed to get into this situation. Since most of the students were immigrant students and had very little idea in absence legal advise about their rights and what the law required. The students should not be penalized because the university misrepresented things to them, admitted them and told them that they will attend online classes but never gave any instructions how and when to attend these classes.