Are Indian Students Enrolled At Tri-Valley University (TVU) Really Innocent?

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Updated on Mar 31, 2011 09:26 IST

The first few lines of the introductory page of the ‘sham' Tri-Valley University (TVU) of California website state that it is a ‘Christian Higher Education Institution aiming to offer rigorous and excellent quality academic programs in the context of Christian faith and world view.' Offering bachelor and master programmes in engineering, art, law, medicine, and library science, University claims to advocate ‘Academic Excellence, Character Integrity, Christ-like Compassion, Inclusion and non-discrimination, and Integration-integration of academic professionalism with Christian faith'.

Tall tales, if you look at the charges imposed on it by federal investigation authorities! The Tri-Valley University has been shut down on the charges of misusing their visa permits and running a massive immigration fraud. It is alleged that besides serving as an illegal entry point for immigrant status aspirants, the Tri-Valley University also indulged in money laundering and other crimes.

Reasons for Suspicion

Out of 1,555 students enrolled in the university, about 95 per cent are from India - mostly from Andhra Pradesh. Many of the intelligentsia hold a view that students cannot be deemed entirely guileless and innocent. With 90% Indian students and that too from Andhra, there is a good reason to suspect that there is something fishy going on.

The Tri-Valley University offers 20% discount to students (which is a considerable sum on the tuition fee of approx Rs 8 lakh) for facilitating new admissions.

According to the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), students enrolled in the residential and online courses of the university were shown living in California in University records. More than half of these students are shown living in a single apartment in Sunnyvale, California. Actually, these students worked ‘illegally' in other parts of the country as far as Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

TVU's fee structure is about one-third to one-fourth of what other US universities charge to foreign students (around USD 15,000 to USD 20,000 per annum).

The university also offers online courses to students allowing them to stay away from the physical location of the college. One of the conditions of the student visas requires students to physically attend their classes and complete their coursework.

Many students from Andhra landed up at TVU for its instant employment lure; even though they had joined other universities at first. Only 140 students are actually bound to TVU, as per the forms submitted to US Consulates in India to obtain student visas. Since using illegal I-20 forms issued by TVU needed to get a student (F1) visa carried the risk of being caught, these students allegedly applied to other universities that offered valid I-20 forms and then used them to enter TVU.

TVU charged Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 for these I-20 forms, which are ‘fake' and not approved by the US government while the valid institutions offer I-20 forms for free.

Defense of Indian Students

Some of the Hyderabad students, who got their I-20 forms from TVU, allege that both the Hyderabad US Consulate and the Chennai US Consulate failed to detect the fraud and processed their F-1 visa forms, giving them no reason to doubt the university.

Others, who have moved from other universities to TVU, say that TVU allowed them to work for 20 to 40 hours per week from Day 1 as Curricular Practical Training, and they thought it was legal.

The Indian student community also says that since the Tri-Valley University has been recognized and accredited for accepting foreign students, Indian students should not be blamed for seeking admission there.

IAEC Consultancy, which has been named as the Tri-valley's representatives for South Asia region in the varsity's website, denies any links with the university and says that it has not sent even a single student to the institution.

What Tri-Valley University Has To Say

Founder and President of the Tri-Valley University, Ms Susan Su, was born in China. Most of the faculty too belongs to Chinese origin. They remain defiant in the face of all the charges and maintain that TVU has not broken any law. Su blames her two staff members of Indian origin for the blatant misuse of I20 forms.
Su insists that Tri-Valley University's growth pace has been so fast that they might have slipped on some protocol issues.

The staff members that have been fired by TVU for the fraud are: Anji Reddy - a student assistant who worked in TVU administrative office, and another TVU student called Ram Krista Karra, who also has a consultant company. The students, duped by these two individuals, paid their tuition fee in the personal account of Ram Krista Karra to get their student I-20 forms and CPT approvals.

Take of Indian Government

Being forced to wear radio ankle monitors to keep track of their movements and being interrogated by federal investigation authorities for hours, Indian student community is now in panic over what might happen to them. The threat of being deported and their F-1 visa status being declared null and void looms large over them. Worse still, they might even be arrested and may face criminal persecution.

The Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Consulate in California are doing their bit to protect the interest of Indian students trapped in the US and to provide them with legal aid. India demands that since the university is recognized and accredited to accept foreign students, the concerned students should be allowed to seek transfer to other universities or go back and be re-considered for visas again, without any prejudices.


Logically, it is difficult to believe that none of the 1,500 Indian (Andhra) students realized that it is suspicious that 90% of students in an American University are from India and that too from one particular state, or why would a university offer academic programmes at one-third or one-fourth the price of other US universities or how can a university offer work permits to so many students, when others can't. Paying money for I-20 forms or work permits, available for free to those who are eligible, also seems to come under ‘shady deals'.

Yet, there might be many who just fell victim to the ‘herd' mentality and have been actually duped by the fraud education agents. For the sake of those students, it is very important to spread the awareness amongst study abroad aspirants about how important it is to verify the antecedents and credentials of a university before applying for it.


Source: Team Shiksha

Date: 3rd February, 2011

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