Beware of visa fraud!

As another US university came under the scanner, the United States asked Indian students to be alert to the existence of ‘predatory visa fraud rings and fraudulent document vendors’.

"We are looking into this matter, we’re following the case closely, and we’re in communication with the Government of India officials on it," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Friday, a day after a raid on the University of Northern Virginia.

Based in Annandale, a Washington suburb, the unaccredited, for-profit private university has some 2,400 students of which 90 percent are from India, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, registered at three locations in northern Virginia.

The US embassy in New Delhi has briefed the Ministry of External Affairs and the US Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have been in contact with the Indian Embassy here, Toner said.

Declining to give details as an investigation is ongoing, the spokesman said "it’s important to note that a hundred thousand Indians are receiving a good education at certified US institutions each year, and we certainly welcome the contribution of Indian students wishing to study in the United States."

"And of course, as always, we caution them to be alert to the existence of these so-called predatory visa fraud rings and fraudulent document vendors," he said.

Asked how US consulates or embassies in India issued visas for study at such institutions, Toner again declined comment in view of "an ongoing investigation".

"They’ve taken action against this school, and we’re in close coordination with the Indian Government as we move forward. But beyond that, I don’t want to comment on details," he said.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has warned the Northern Virginia University that it could withdraw the school’s authorisation to admit foreign students.

Agency Spokesperson Cori Bassett, however, would not say why the action was taken, saying it is part of a pending investigation. The school remains open and certified and will have the chance to rebut the government’s allegations.(IANS)

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