US university closure: India says students hold valid visas

Friday, January 28, 2011

NEW DELHI - Voicing concern over the welfare of Indian students affected by the closure of a California-based university, India Friday asserted that students had valid visas and conveyed to the US that they should be given chance to clarify their position.

The students hold valid visas, a senior official said here Friday, adding that India is hopeful they will be given adequate opportunity to clarify their position.

“Our immediate concern is the welfare of students. We are in touch with US federal agencies, a senior official said. India’s consul general in San Fransisco also is in touch with students, the official said.

India has sought a report from its missions in the US over the fate of Indian students after American authorities closed down a California-based university on charges of “visa fraud” and illegal immigration.

The issue will be discussed in detail when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao travels to Washington next month.

“We have asked for a report from our embassy and from our consulate general and when a report is issued, we will be taking it up with the government of the US,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had told reporters here Thursday.

The missions have been instructed also to look into the welfare of Indian students affected by the closure of the Tri-Valley University.

Hundreds of Indian students, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of being deported from the US after the university in California, declared “sham”, was shut down for allegedly selling US visa to willing students.

The Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, a suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, was raided Tuesday and charged with helping foreign nationals illegally acquire immigration status, according to local media reports.

A complaint filed by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against the “sham” university alleged that its founder and president Susan Xiao-Ping Su was using the school to issue a US visa to any foreign national willing to pay for it.

The immigration investigation began in May 2010, after it was noticed that the school applied for an excessive number of US student visas when compared to the previous year. The university is said to have 1,555 students, of which 95 percent are Indian nationals, the complaint said.

The US has expressed concern over the incident. “Any activity involving visa fraud would obviously be of great concern to us. The investigation of that is done by law enforcement, obviously with our cooperation, since we are the ones who issue visas,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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