Close the SEVIS Record Transfer Loophole Now!

To kick off the (Solar) New Year this is the first in a trilogy of posts that involve either gaming the system or visa fraud.  The remaining two…

  • Financial Document Fraud & Visa Applications
  • The F-1 (Student Visa) As a Ticket To Emigration

will be posted by the end of the month.  Here’s to another year of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue!

SEVISIt wasn’t always this way, i.e., that international students could say they want to attend one US higher education institution but are in fact planning to enroll in another.  Here’s how to game the system and walk through a gaping loophole in US immigration law in three easy steps.  And, yes, the cat’s been out of the bag for a long time so I’m not spilling any beans here.

  1. Apply to Podunk University because you’ve heard “on the street” or from your friendly agent that it’s pretty easy to get a get a visa to that school.  That’s called piggybacking off a school’s hard-earned reputation.
  2. Arrive in the US and inform the Podunk international office that, oh, so sorry, you changed your mind and decided to attend another university in, say, Orange County (Quận Cam), San Jose or wherever you happen to have relatives, in most cases.
  3. After your SEVIS record has been transferred, which Podunk U is legally obligated to do, enroll in the local college of choice.  Voilà, mission accomplished!

The end result is that Podunk loses a student and the time/money, above and beyond the application fee, that it took to process her or his application.  While this is not visa fraud because it is, after all, perfectly legal, it IS the stuff of smoke and mirrors.

What can US higher education colleagues do to fight back?

  • Long-term:  Lobby the US government to close this loophole – individually, as a group and/or through a professional association like NAFSA.
  • Short-term:  In the meantime, charge students a hefty fee and use that money to cover any additional costs and for scholarships for qualified and deserving international students.

Bottom Line

International students should be required to study for at least a quarter or a semester before transferring.  To do otherwise is, in most cases, an example of visa fraud.

Suggestions or thoughts?


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