Gaming the System, International Student-Style

gaming the systemGaming the system (also referred to as gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system) can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.

Here’s a relevant hypothetical situation that applies to Vietnamese and other international students in the U.S.

Q:  Can I transfer to a different school?

A:  Yes.  You must notify your current school and work with the designated school official (DSO) to transfer your SEVIS record. You also need to obtain a new I-20 from your new school, and give the completed I-20 to your new DSO within 15 days of transfer date.

There you have it.  You can choose a college and university that will give you an edge in obtaining a student visa ostensibly to attend a school in, say, a state other than California, in the case of many Vietnamese students, especially those from the South.  Then pack your bags, fly to the U.S., make a beeline for your aunt or uncle in San Jose or Long Beach, and follow the aforementioned procedure in order to be able to attend a local institution of higher education.  Mission accomplished!  Wasn’t that easy?

Now let’s rewind.  The school that originally issued the I-20 and invested the time it took to process the application in exchange for a nominal application fee is out one student.  Why not close this gaping loophole and require students to study at the institution that originally issued the I-20 for at least one semester?  That will make it more worthwhile for the admitting school and make students think twice about playing musical schools.


One thought on “Gaming the System, International Student-Style

  1. One reader suggested that I might be revealing a secret with this post that would encourage even more international students to “game the system.” The fact of the matter is I’m not spilling any beans here. The cat was out of the bag a long time ago. This information is on U..S. government and many U.S. higher education websites. This type of fraud – how else would you describe it? – is currently a “right.”


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