‘US probe against university, not Indian students’

July 29th, 2011 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) With the US immigration authorities raiding the University of Northern Virginia (UNVA) on suspicion of visa fraud, the external affairs ministry here said Friday that the investigation was against the varsity and not against its Indian students.

It also clarified that the UNVA was not being shut down immediately, but will be given a month’s time for explaining its student visa related activities. UNVA has a large number of Indian students on its 2,400-strong rolls.

Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash, in response to a question from reporters, said there will be no mass termination of of the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records relating to UNVA and that the authorities will assist students in transfering to other educational institutions in the country or to return home.

SEVIS is a web-based database managed by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and used by the US Department of Homeland Security to collect, track and monitor information on exchange visitors, international students and scholars who enter the country on F, M and J non-immigrant visas.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided UNVA’s Annandale administrative offices Thursday and seized several boxes of documents.

It also put up a notice on UNVA’s office doors asking foreign students to leave the US if they are unable to “continue to attend classes and maintain their active status in a manner required by federal government regulations”.

“We understand that the US immigration authorities (ICE) served a notice of intent yesterday on the University of Northern Virginia to withdraw its authorisation. However, the university would not be shut down immediately but would be given a one month notice for an explanation,” Prakash said.

The Indian embassy in Washington has been kept in the loop by ICE “as a very large percentage of the 2,400 UNVA students are Indian nationals”, he added.

India has meanwhile “impressed upon” the US authorities the need to ensure that the students “are not victimised” in any manner, since they all have valid documents.

“We have been told that the focus of investigations is not on the students but on UNVA itself. The ministry and our mission in Washington are closely following the developments and are in the process of obtaining all details in the matter,” he added.

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