Visa Scam

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2011 (AFP) – A case working its way through a federal court in California has exposed huge student visa scams by “sham” universities cashing in on Indians and other foreigners looking for a quick path to jobs in the United States. Enrollment at Tri-Valley University, an unaccredited self-styled Christian graduate school, surged from a handful of students to 1,500, almost all from India, in a two-year period before federal authorities shut it down in January.

The university’s president, Susan Su, was arrested in May and charged with fraud, money laundering, harboring aliens and making false statements. Four others also have been charged in the case.

She is accused of submitting false documentation to get federal approval to sponsor students to the university on foreign visas, and then using it to sell visas to all comers for the price of tuition, $2,700 a semester.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Wednesday called it “a pretty horrible visa scam, where a fake university petitioned and got visas for a bunch of students to come over and then actually turned out not to be a real educational institution.”

The case, which has yet to go to trial, has strained relations with India, whose press has