The Tri-Valley University made a lot of bad press in 2011 when the school was raided for suspicions of trafficking illegal aliens. Their students, mostly Indian nationals, were taken into custody because their Visas, all processed by Tri-Valley, were illegal. These developments did not see a lot of news coverage in the US. But it caused an uproar in India when they learned about how the US officials treated the Indian students under custody. This article aims to shed light on the Tri-Valley scam, how they managed to pull it off, and how they got caught.
Tri-Valley University started in 2008 and established itself as a for-profit university. They first operated under a religious exception because they purported their institution to be a Christian school. However, their exemption was overruled by the California Bureau of Private Post secondary Education a year later.
In 2009, Tri-Valley started accepting foreign students. US Immigration granted this request in 2009 and Tri-Valley summarily recruited 11 students. They processed F1 visas for each of the 11. But in 2010, the number of foreign students grew to 900. By 2011, the number of foreigners in Tri-Valley was 1,550 (or 90% of the school’s population). All of these students were Indian nationals.
When officials became concerned about the growing number of foreign students in Tri-Valley, they inspected the school only to find it near empty. They then learned of the scam perpetuated by the school: they would convince Indian students to come to America where they will be placed to work (and not to go to school). These Indian students would have to pay $3,000 to obtain their F1 Visa.
Upon arriving in the US, Tri-Valley will then disperse these Indian students to work odd jobs. At best, these jobs were menial; at worst, these jobs were illegal and paid below the minimum wage. They shipped these students all around the US (and not only in San Francisco, where the school is located).
When officials questioned them about this practice, Tri-Valley responded by saying the students were enrolled in a “work” program. This “work” program, as alleged by the Tri-Valley management, was aimed at giving the students an idea of how working in America is like. When they were asked why the students did not attend classes, Tri-Valley responded by saying that all classes were held over the internet.
How They Pulled It Off
Perhaps by now you can come up with your conclusion on how Tri-Valley pulled off their scheme. What they did was they lured Indian students to fork up $3,000 for a chance to enter and work in the US illegally with a student Visa. They will then pass off these Indian workers as students under a “work program” for their university. Therefore, they never really intended to take in students. What they were after being the $3,000 “tuition” fee.
How They Got Caught
Tri-Valley simply got too big too fast. They started off with only $5,000 as their initial investment when they started the school. And in three years they were raking in millions of dollars in profit. The government got suspicious. Their suspicions increased when they found out no classes ever took place. This is in direct violation of student visa protocol—a foreign student needs to attend physical classes in order to be eligible for a Visa. With no classes being held, Tri-Valley was clearly in violation of this protocol.
The school’s website also raised further doubts about the integrity of the school. Their website contains numerous typographical and grammatical errors. There were also blatant lies in their sites where falsely claimed to be accredited to several associations and organizations.
It’s a good thing officials finally shut down Tri-Valley University. They not only robbed their victims with their cash, but they also ruined their employment prospects and gave them legal problems. We advise all our readers to research a school first before enrolling. Tri-Valley might have ceased operating, but there are other unaccredited schools like them who run scams on unwitting victims. Do read up on our future reports so that you will not fall prey to these scams.