A much-awaited advisory from the Department the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement may alleviate the fears of legitimate students of Tri-Valley University, which was closed following charges of fraud.
The advisory, posted on Tuesday, provides students with a few options, including the one to return home without being barred re-entry to the US in future.
"We have to contact our immigration attorney to find out what is required," said Ashok Kolla, chair of the Telugu Association of North America's student committee.
In an e-mail, Virginia Kice, western regional communications director and spokesperson, told rediff.com that "ICE has taken further steps to ensure SEVP-certified schools and former Tri-Valley students have the information they need to make informed decisions in light of the ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, many students residing in the Bay Area received the "Notice to Appear."
Students who contact SEVP representatives will be advised they have three options:
Report to ICE to be processed for voluntary departure from the United States. This option allows them to leave under their own power on a day of their choosing, to remain in the United States without fear of being arrested while waiting to depart, and keeps their immigration history clean.
Depart the United States on their own.
File for re-instatement with US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Tri-Valley University was declared a sham and shut down by the Department of Homeland Security January 19. The closure of university's rendered the Tri-Valley students out of status and, therefore, no longer legal immigrants.
Kice said, "As you know due to the ongoing investigation we are discussing the details related to this case."
More than 1,500 students were affected and many were tagged with electronic anklets as part of its Intensive Supervision Appearance Program.The matter may take a while to get to court. One student who has been wearing a monitoring device since January 19 has a court date set at August 30 and a friend's on September 13.
Susmita G Thomas, the Indian consul general in San Francisco, said on Saturday that she received a one-line e-mail from ICE suggesting there is a possibility of reinstatement of visa which means the possibility of filing I-539 application to extend their non-immigration status.
USCIS spokesperson Sharon Rummery said the I-539 is filed when non-immigrant students go out of status or have discontinued their study and are applying for reinstatement. The process to access eligibility and clear the application, thus permitting the student to stay, could take about 10 weeks. Application costs work out to $290.
"I suppose it is a positive sign.It is not a blanket thing. They will review each student and will work on case by case basis.If that helps those legitimately in the US to study it will reduce some of the damage done," Thomas said.