SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – From her hometown in India in 2010, Bhanu Challa said she had no reason to doubt that Tri-Valley University was a legitimate American school where she could pursue a master’s degree. Its website featured smiling students in caps and gowns and promised a leafy campus in a San Francisco Bay Area suburb.
Months later, her hands were in cuffs as federal investigators questioned her motives for being in the US Authorities told her that Tri-Valley was a sham school. It was selling documents that allowed foreigners to obtain US student visas, and in some cases work in the country, while providing almost no instruction, according to federal investigators.
“I was blank, totally blank …,” Challa said, recalling her shock. “I didn’t know what to do, who I could approach.”
Tri-Valley is among at least half a dozen schools shut down or raided by federal authorities in recent years over allegations of immigration fraud.
Like Tri-Valley, they had obtained permission from US immigration officials to admit foreign students.
But most offered little or no instruction or didn’t require all students to attend classes, instead exploiting the student visa system for profit, investigators said.