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Rediff.com  » News » CEO of US university arrested, NRI students in a spot

CEO of US university arrested, NRI students in a spot

August 03, 2012 11:15 IST

Foreign students who are currently enrolled at the university can continue to attend classes as long as the school remains certified and the students are able to maintain their lawful immigration status. Ritu Jha reports

The arrest of the chief executive officer of the Herguan University and University of East-West Medicine in Sunnyvale, California, comes as a big blow for international students of Indian origin studying at these universities. The universities now face the loss of authorisation to enroll foreign students under the student and exchange visitor program.  

On Thursday, Jerry Wang, the chief executive officer of the universities was arrested at his home in Santa Clara on charges of visa fraud.

Wang, 34, was indicted by a federal grand jury on a 15-count indictment, announced the United States Attorney Melinda Haag and the US Immigration and the San Francisco Special Agent in Charge for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Clark Settles.  

Wang made his initial appearance in federal court in San Jose on Thursday.

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.

"This is very disappointing," said Ashok Babu Kholla, students' NRI president of TANA (Telugu Association of North America) while speaking to Rediff.com. According to media publications there are 450 students, said Kholla, adding that most students are from India. He said he has contacted Datta Padsalgikar, personal and community affairs officer at the Indian Embassy in  Washington DC and also Attorney Sheela Murthy founder and president of the Murthy Law Firm, located in Maryland. She has worked with many Tri-valley Universities students. The university was shut down by federal agents in January 2010.

Kholla said students were asked on Thursday not to come to the school.

Jack Gillaud, spokesman for the US Department of Justice, United States Attorney, Northern District of California told Rediff.com that the school has not been shut down but the university faces the loss of its authorisation to enroll foreign students under SEVP. ICE has issued Herguan a Notice of Intent to Withdraw, the first step in revoking the school's SEVP certification.  

Herguan has 30 days to respond to the notice and request an interview to contest the action. Meanwhile, foreign students who are currently enrolled at Herguan may continue to attend classes as long as the school remains SEVP-certified and the students are able to maintain their lawful immigration status.

Wang is next scheduled to appear in federal court in San Jose on August 20 for identification of counsel and arraignment.

The prosecution is the result of an 18-month investigation by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) overseen by Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents.

Ritu Jha in California