HYDERABAD: Indian students who joined the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ), which was a sting institution set up by US federal authorities to bust the student visa racket, are being deported post haste without being given the chance to join another college, sources in student circles in the US told Express.
This is a radical departure from the practice followed after a similar university, Tri-Valley, was busted five years ago.
According to Express sources, the visas of almost all the Indian students of UNNJ have been terminated and the deportation process has been set in motion. Some students from Hyderabad are already on their way back home, they added.
About 1,000 students are learnt to have been given termination letters by the US immigration authorities.
In a nationwide sweep, US federal authorities arrested 21 people (10 of them Indian-Americans) in New York, New Jersey, Washington and Virginia as part of the UNNJ sting operation against students taking admission in what are called Pay to Stay universities only to be able to reside in the US and work. The UNNJ was a fake university set up by the US authorities to expose the visa scam.
The arrested people were brokers, recruiters and employers who fraudulently obtained student visas and foreign worker visas for approximately 1,000 foreign nationals from 26 countries. It is learnt that a large number of students from India pay huge sums to brokers and agents to get them admission in a Pay to Stay University.
The fees charged is often much less and mandatory attendance is minimal. An accompanying phenomenon to this racket is the recruitment of these students for part-time or lowly-paid jobs.
US officials, however, did not give the number of Indian students who were trapped in the year-long sting operation.
“My friend joined UNNJ some six months back. Soon after the scam was busted, his visa was terminated and he was asked to leave the country immediately. Right now, he is on his way to Hyderabad,” said a New York-based Indian student whose friend had enrolled in UNNJ. He added, “He had no clue that the university is a fake one. He could not secure a job even three months after completing his masters, and he decided to do a second degree. Because when he joined UNNJ, it cost him just $6,000 per course against the $20,000 charged by other universities. The management assured that he would get a certificate even if he did not attend the college regularly. So he started concentrating on part-time jobs,” he added.
In 2011, when news of the Tri-Valley University scam broke, the US authorities allowed the transfer of Indian students to other institutions. Apart from that, the US officials then also assured that in case of anybody deciding to opt out of the transfer process and go back to India and apply afresh from there, their cases would be considered on the basis of the quality of the fresh applications without any reference to the TVU scam.
No official statement has been released yet either by the US consulate in India or by the Indian government on this issue.