Invoking the Tri-Valley University episode
in California in which 1,500 Indian nationals were caught up in a visa scam, lawmakers led by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) have called on U.S authorities to launch an immediate crackdown on illegal use of student visas by foreign nationals to attend "sham universities."
"By abusing the system and ignoring our laws, these sham schools are threatening our security and threatening what student visas are supposed to accomplish," Tester said in a statement given to TPM. "I'm fighting to make sure every one of these shams gets shut down."
Tester noted that several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.
Tester, joined by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (CA), Bill Nelson (FL) Claire McCaskill (MO), and Charles Schumer (NY), have outlined a plan to combat such fake universities, which includes developing a list of high-risk factors that point to fraud.
These high risk factors include schools that are not accredited or conduct classes mostly online. Tester's plan calls for site-visits to every school that uses student visas and that exhibits such high risk factors within the next year.
The senators also cited the case of two other California "schools" busted for providing student visas to Russian prostitutes. Three "schools" in New York were closed in 2006 and 2007. Earlier last year, Florida Language Institute in Miami was raided by federal agents for illegally securing student visas for nearly 600 foreign nationals.
Tester told Fox News today he is "committed" to introducing a bill to toughen penalties for this kind of fraud.
A copy of the senators' letter to the Department of Homeland Security and to immigration officials appears here.