Phony university faked immigration status for over a thousand students
- Tri-Valley University, which lacked instructors or basic course materials, exchanged student visas for tuition to over 1,000 students.
- Susan Su, the founder and president of TVU, was convicted late last month on 31 counts, including alien harboring.
- TVU's website assured readers that its "course system and virtual classrooms" complied with federal law.
Susan Su, the founder and President of Tri-Valley University, was convicted late last month of running a multimillion dollar “visa mill,” which illegally provided immigration status to over 1,000 foreign students.
In all, the 43-year old Su was convicted on 31 counts, including conspiracy to commit visa fraud, money laundering, and alien harboring.
A federal grand jury indicted Su in November 2011 on charges that she operated a phony, unaccredited university with the intent of fleecing millions of dollars from foreign nationals, who were looking to receive student visas in exchange for paying tuition. Employees testified that the university, which operated from 2008 to 2011, lacked instructors, course materials, and even requirements for admission and graduation. Furthermore, they said that Su had instructed them to create fraudulent transcripts.
Su was able to orchestrate the plot by making false representations to the Department Homeland Security (DHS) through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The false representations were then used to illegally obtain and issue F-1 visas to students.
The university’s website boasts that the “course system and virtual classrooms [Su] built are not perfect, but are genuinely working and also in compliance with Fed law.” The site also contains a downloadable document that denies the university intends to hide immigration status. In reality, 550 of the students were said to be residing in a single apartment in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Su swindled students out of $5.5 million in two years, money which she then used to purchase commercial real estate in Pleasanton, including a mansion at Ruby Hill Golf Club, and a Mercedes-Benz.
Su is to remain in custody until her sentencing date on June 20th. Due to the serious nature of the charges, she could face several years in federal prison.
In 2011, the case led to changes at the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which manages schools and non-immigrant students on behalf of DHS. According to the Government Accountability Office, SEVP created a compliance unit and instituted a process to identify similar fraudulent schools.
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