Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) say every year, they bust hundreds of schools that served as fronts for illegal immigration operations, leaving thousands of foreign nationals who've paid tuition in exchange for a student visa in the lurch, while the head of the "school" often winds up forfeiting property, or, behind bars.
The latest example appears to come from the San Francisco Bay Area: Tri-Valley University based in Pleasanton. Federal prosecutors say it wasn't a school at all- rather an elaborate scheme to defraud the government, and perhaps the biggest scam of its kind.
Open since 2008, TVU's website touts on-line classes in engineering, medicine, and law, and a faculty list of more than 50 highly educated professionals. But those we contacted said they'd never seen the school, or taught a class. Many had no idea their names were on the site, which is peppered with numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes ("Now you graduate, we would like to hear from you, about life and how the study at TVU and the degree do to your career, not just your million dollar donation!").
ICE officials noticed enrollment nearly tripled in a matter of months to over 1,500 students- almost all from the same region of India, and each paying $5,400 per semester to the schools founder, Susan Su.
Court documents say "since its inception, Tri-Valley University has been a "sham" university which Su, and others, have used to facilitate foreign nationals in illegally acquiring student immigration status that authorizes them to remain in the United States."