Gaming the US Student Visa System: Easy as 1-2-3


fraudDo you want to emigrate to the US without the muss and fuss of a multi-year immigrant petition that may or may not be approved?  Psst!  Here’s a low-cost solution.  Apply to an undergraduate or graduate program, depending upon your educational background, at a reputable college or university where there are not many Vietnamese students, if any at all.  Your chances are better that the application will look legitimate. 

Make up a plausible story as to why you chose that off-the-beaten path institution (kudos to you for being so adventurous!), get the student visa, and pack your bags!  (If you’re denied the first time, pony up another fee and come up with a better story.  Maybe the second time will be the charm.  Or the third time.  There is always a bit of luck involved.)

Next, student visa in hand, fly directly to the city in which one of your relatives lives, as you planned from the very beginning.  Then contact your institution and apologize for the change of plans (“So sorry!  Family reasons!” you know the drill), and enroll at a local institution.  It doesn’t matter what you study as long as you’re legally in the US.  Plus, you can rest easy knowing that the original admitting institution is legally obligated to transfer your SEVIS record if you submit the request within a specified period of time.  (You know what is, right?)  Bingo, you’re in!  You’re golden!  Out with the old, in with the new!  Congratulations!  You did it!

Now you can plan your next move.  Marriage to a US citizen?  Maybe you or your rels already have something arranged and someone in mind.  An immigration attorney will help you with that.  Work visa?  That may take a little longer, especially in the current political climate, but it’s possible.   An immigration attorney an help you with that, too.

Shift to a more serious tone…

Here’s one particularly egregious example of what is essentially visa fraud, whereby a student uses an existing loophole in US immigration law to presumably to lay the groundwork for immigration.   

cheating_bartA young woman says she wants to pursue an MBA in the US.  She gains admission, finally gets her student visa, arrives in the US, and makes a beeline for an area with a high concentration of Vietnamese-Americans, including, surprise!, some of her relatives.  Following my instructions above, she immediately requests that her SEVIS record be transferred to Community College A even though she has a BA, which was required to enter the MBA program. 

No, wait.  Maybe it’s not a CC, after all.  The plot thickens.  She’s actually planning to take ESL classes at a local university, even though she met the English requirement of the aforementioned MBA program.  (Is your head spinning yet?)  At any rate, it’s all for show because it’s clear she’s killing time so that a green card can be arranged.  

The admitting institution, which is investing considerable resources to recruit international, including Vietnamese, students, loses a student, which amounts to a waste of staff time and loss of valuable tuition revenue, among other intangible yet equally important losses.

The bottom line is that the US government has to close this loophole, or at least not make this process so easy for young people who are clearly not bona fide students without a plan to return home, two pillars of the holy trinity of the student visa process. 

Advisers, be they from EducationUSA, the private sector, or admitting institutions, cannot read minds and look into potential students’ hearts.  The system can, however, be reformed so that students are held accountable for their decisions.  Is anyone listening?

MAA

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