Digging Deeper:

Examples of DHS enforcement actions


In 2011, DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice closed down a school based in California, Tri-Valley University (TVU), for immigration fraud.  TVU charged its F-1 students fees, did not require class attendance, and placed them in low-wage retail jobs scattered around the country.99 Just 53 of the 1,555 F-1 students lived within commuting distance of TVU.  Many of the student off-campus job placements violated the F-1 visa work rules, including: 
  • a Business Administration student worked full time at a Houston tobacco shop;
  • Health Care Administration students worked full time at a convenience and department stores; and
  • a computer science major worked at a dollar retail store.100
As a result of the investigation, TVU shut down and the owner was indicted for visa fraud, money laundering and alien harboring.101 Some of the TVU students were arrested, put in removal proceedings and tagged with electronic tracking devices.102 All told, about 1,000 students had to leave the country, scramble to transfer, or face the prospect of deportation.103 It is unknown if any of the fees the students paid to TVU were returned to them.
As another example, at California Union University, foreign students from more than 20 different countries paid fees ranging from $600 to more than $10,000 to obtain student visas, despite the fact that they never attended class.104 The head of the school was sentenced to a year in prison and was ordered to forfeit 4 million dollars to the U.S. government.  That same year, the Florida Language Institute was indicted for essentially selling foreign individuals the paperwork necessary to obtain F-1 visas but not requiring attendance at classes.105 One of the school officials made at least $600,000 off the scheme.  At the sentencing hearing for visa fraud, the judge sentenced the guilty school official to 15 months imprisonment, and made her pay a fine of $5000 and forfeit $600,000 of money and property to the U.S. government.  It is unclear what happened to the workers in either of these cases.