US wants to resolve TVU issue quickly

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 17 (PTI) Regretting the inconveniencecaused to Indian students, the US has said it wants to quicklyresolve the "visa fraud" issue leading to the closure of theCalifornia-based Tri-Valley University even as radio tags wereremoved from three more students.

"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," State Department spokesman P J Crowleytold reporters here.

"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.

India''s Consul General in San Francisco SusmitaGongulee Thomas said Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE)have removed radio tags from three more Indian students andreturned their passports along with the two others, from whomradio tags were removed last week.

In all radio tags so far has been removed from five ofthe 18 Indian students.

According to a federal complaint filed in a Californiacourt in January, the TVU had helped foreign nationalsillegally acquire immigration status. The university is saidto have 1,555 students. As many as 95 per cent of thesestudents are Indian nationals, the complaint said.

Investigations by US Immigration and CustomsEnforcement (ICE) have found that while students were admittedto various residential and on-line courses of the universityand on paper lived in California, but in reality they"illegally" worked in various parts of the country as faras Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas.

ICE has called it as a "Sham University", a chargedenied by the TVU.

The US fully understands the point made by Indiangovernment that the closure of this university has put inlimbo the academic career of Indian students, Crowley said,adding that the issue has been a subject of discussion betweenNew Delhi and Washington which involves Secretary of StateHillary Clinton.

"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," he said.

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