Hyderabad, July 31: The University of Northern Virginia at Annandale, which is being investigated for alleged visa fraud has a total strength of 2,400 students. Close to 90 percent of them are Indians and mostly belong to Andhra Pradesh. The raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department and Federal Bureau of Investigation has endangered the future of a large number of students from the state, who are enrolled in various courses.
The visa-fraud charges levied against the UNVA is reminiscent of similar incident of the Tri-Valley University in California in January, when the ICE raided the university and forced some students to wear ankle-monitors which radio-tagged their movement, creating an uproar at the treatment meted out to Indian nationals. At Tri-Valley, out of the 1,555 students, most were from Andhra Pradesh. Indian students had transferred themselves to the university from other institutes in the US and pursued part-time courses, violating their VISA status.
Incidentally, no complaints have been registered so far against the UNVA by either parents of students from the state or by students themselves. “We have not been contacted by any concerned party. We will look into the matter when we receive complaints,” commented NV Ramana Reddy, special secretary (Protocol), government of Andhra Pradesh, who is also incharge of the NRI cell. A look at the official social media forum of UNVA shows multiple posts from residents of the state, who were scheduled to join the Fall semester by next month. In an attempt to reach out to students of the UNVA, Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party, USA has submitted a letter to the Indian ambassador Meera Shankar to provide students with legal advice and facilitate their transfer to other US universities.
It must be noted that both the UNVA and Tri-Valley were accused of fraudulent practices in an investigative report carried by the US-based Chronicle of Higher Education, on private unaccredited universities exploiting visa loopholes to make money by cheating foreign students. The incident has again brought to light the price parents and students are willing to pay for a foreign degree and the consequence of trusting fly-by-night establishments.