US probes Tri Valley University visa scam

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 17 (PTI) Acknowledging that theclosure of the California-based Tri Valley University iscausing great inconvenience to a large number of Indianstudents, US today said there was a strong indication that"visa fraud has occurred" and the matter has to be probed.

The US fully understands the point made by Indiangovernment that the closure of this university has put inlimbo the academic career of Indian students, State Departmentspokesman P J Crowley said, adding that the issue has been asubject of discussion between New Delhi and Washington whichinvolves Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We we have strong suspicions that visa fraud hasoccurred. It is a matter of great concern to us as a country.

It''s a matter of great concern to India as a country. We willseek to resolve this as quickly as we can. We will pledge tokeep Indian authorities fully informed. But we have to gothrough this investigation first," he said.

"We have ongoing concerns both in this case and morebroadly about instances of visa fraud. We need to continue toinvestigate how these things happen and try to do everythingwe can to prevent them from occurring in the future," Crowleysaid.

"That said, we do understand that there are studentswho have been caught up in this. It has been the subject ofdiscussions with Secretary Clinton and others and also withthe Indian embassy here, our embassy in India.

"We will as cooperatively as we can with the Indiangovernment as we move ahead here. But it''s hard to knowexactly what is possible because the matter is still underinvestigation," he said.

"We have reiterated over the course of the lastseveral days our commitment to work very closely with theIndian government. We understand the concerns the governmenthas. We want to resolve these cases and those that are justensnared in somebody else''s fraud. We understand that they''vebeen put in kind of a limbo status as a result of this. Weregret that very much," Crowley said.

Promising that the United States is going to work ascooperatively as it can both with the government and also tohelp resolve these cases, Crowley said India has made thepoint and the US understand it fully that for the studentscaught up in this the risk is that they''ll lose a year ofschooling and go through, great inconvenience as this matteris being investigated.

"We do understand that, and we''ve pledged ourcooperation. But we do, you know, recognise that there arestrong indications of visa fraud. We don''t know who''sinvolved. We don''t know how they got involved, but this has tobe investigated fully. And we will do that," he said.

"The (US) embassy in Delhi has also issued somestatements that reiterate that the embassy is available as aresource to help students who want to apply to come to schoolsin the United States," he noted.

"We will make sure that whoever is interested incoming to the United States we continue to welcome Indianstudents to study here -- that they avail themselves of allthe available information on how to do this and alert them tothe potential for fraudulent institutions that are trying todo these kinds of things," he said.

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