It took almost 24 hours for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to rescind the status of 600 students, mostly of Indian origin, who were declared "out of status" creating nightmare for the students of Herguan University who now face an uncertain future, reports Ritu Jha.
On Tuesday, September 18, ICE and Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) served California, Sunnyvale-based Herguan University with a 'Notice of Intent to Withdraw' accreditation. Lori K Haley, spokeswoman at the Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Western Region, Laguna Niguel, California told Rediff.com that on August 2 ICE and SEVP had issued a Notice of Intent to Withdraw to Herguan University. Since the school failed to respond to this notice within the 30-day time period allowed by regulation SEVP issued the university a Withdrawal on Notice.
University administration repeatedly claimed they had responded in time.
Interestingly, after a 24 hour drama ICE and SEVP sent a letter Wednesday to the University saying, "On September 19, attorneys for Herguan University informed SEVP that Herguan University had in fact responded to the Notice of Intent to Withdraw issued August 2. While the response was not forwarded to the proper e-mail address, SEVP accepts the university's response as timely filed and will adjudicate the Notice of Intent to Withdraw on the merits of the case. The Withdrawal on Notice issued September 18 is hereby rescinded. All Herguan University student records that were terminated or placed in cancelled status in SEVIS will be returned to active and initial status as applicable."
"We might take legal action against the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement," D Kandy Simmons, Vice President, Herguan University told Rediff.com after receiving letter from ICE and SEVP. She said, "Right now we are just busy to get things in order again. But sure tomorrow we will talk with the attorney and see."
"Whatever happened in the past 24 hours was unbelievable. I think we are going to use this in someway," said Simmons. "They think we are phony, we are fake. This is the way they treat us," said Simmons.
Last month, Jerry Wang, the chief executive officer of the universities was arrested at his home in Santa Clara on charges of visa fraud. The indictment alleges that, beginning July 2007 and continuing through at least February 2011, Wang and others conspired to commit visa fraud through the submission of falsified documents to the United States Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and forgery of visa-related documents. The indictment also alleges four counts of visa fraud, four false document counts, two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of unauthorised access to a government computer and forfeiture.
Wang, 34, indicted by a federal grand jury on a 15-count indictment, is out on bail. Herguan University is a private, unaccredited university but the accreditation process is ongoing.
Simmons said the university is still facing the usual process of the Intent to Withdraw. "We do not want to make enemies, but we expect they will reject our response." Simmons believes that whatever letter is sent as response could get rejected still."
"I get they are under pressure to find institutions that are doing what they are not supposed to do, but they put us out of business, it is not a fake business," reiterated Simmons.
Answering that the statement of the response was not forwarded to the proper e-mail she lamented that the ICE kept saying they did not receive any copy and now suddenly they found it. "It sounds fishy, doesn't it?" asked Simmions. "We sent them copies on September 4, at 2.30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time) three copies through e-mail and one through fax. How is that they were not aware of this," asked Simmons. Higuan University officials sent the e-mail to an officer who has been corresponding with the university administration since it was under investigation. He should be aware what is going on with Herguan."
She said most of the students are on F-1 (visa) and are working; suddenly they all have lost job. "Look it's very sad. If there weren't students and their lives involved, I would've just been mad," stated Simmons.