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Visa crackdown

The arrest of 129 Indians on the charge of wilfully violating immigration laws to stay and work in the United States sends a stark message to youth looking for better prospects abroad: their efforts should begin with due diligence and strictly follow the letter of the law. In the sting operation carried out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which threatens to encompass many more Indians in the ‘University of Farmington’ case, the contentious issue is whether they fell victim to unscrupulous recruiters who offered to secure an I-20 student document that allowed them to undertake paid work using the provision for Curricular Practical Training, or knowingly engaged in fraud. Going by the indictment of eight recruiters of Indian origin, they knew they were violating U.S. immigration law when they enrolled students using fraudulent and unlawful means, and their profits included negotiated referral fees paid into their accounts by undercover agents. The prosecution has alleged that each student who enrolled in the ‘university’ was aware that there would be no classes, credit scores or academic requirements, and the intention was merely to “pay to stay” and gain access to employment. These statements are, of course, subject to scrutiny during the trial of the alleged recruiters. The Ministry of External Affairs has made the correct distinction between students who may have been duped and the recruiters. Students who are eligible to pursue studies at an authorised university in the U.S. should, therefore, get a further opportunity and not be subjected to summary deportation or humiliation. It must also not prejudice the prospects of such students who may apply in future for legal entry. The University of Farmington case in Michigan is not the first instance of Indian students falling foul of U.S. immigration laws, although it stands apart as a racket exposed by a sting operation. Others such as Tri-Valley University and Herguan University were degree mills run by individuals that used false claims and documents to enable youth to unlawfully stay in the U.S. and, in many cases, pursue employment. These trends reinforce the need for good communication that would help students identify credentialed institutions that meet the requirements of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, and highlight the serious nature of visa fraud. If the averments in the Michigan case are correct, the prospect of working in America attracted many of the 600 students who were recruited. This should serve as a reminder to India’s policymakers that access to higher education, job-creation and raising of living standards to meet the aspirations of youth must receive priority. Talk of an impending demographic dividend is meaningless without creating opportunities at home.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/visa-crackdown/article26179586.ece

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