A report from an immigration think tank reveals that “fourth-rate purveyors of higher education” are using immigration law to make millions of dollars while tens of thousands of aliens get student visas and work permits from “visa mills.”
The report released this September 11 by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) titled “The Dregs of Higher Education Damage Our Immigration System” is authored by David North, a fellow at CIS, and Rodney S. North, a Washington-based public policy analyst.
The work is a lengthy and helpful treatise on what it calls “visa mill(s)” and “Compromised Colleges” and makes recommendations on how to correct “a loophole in immigration law” that allows “multiple negative impacts on the United States.”
It looks at approximately 55 institutions “still largely able to issue the Form I-20 that aliens can use to apply for an F-1 (foreign student) visa, but with no U.S.-recognized accreditation.”
CIS notes that these “Compromised Colleges” “virtually all [have] one or (usually) more of the collection of eight black marks” enumerated in the report.
These “black marks” include: supplying “nominal educational opportunities” to the aliens while charging “substantial to outrageous fees;” engaging in “a variety of shady financial practices;” and in two or three cases, using “their status as IRS-recognized charities to avoid substantial state and federal taxes.”
CIS reports that these “visa mills” “[p]rovided suspiciously large numbers of multiple-year OPT (Optional Practical Training) work permissions to their lightly educated alien alumni.” Moreover, the name “OPT” is misleading because “there is no training involved in the OPT program,” it says, and:
OPT currently not only provides work permits for up to three years (formerly 29 months), it also gives employers a 7.65 percent tax break for hiring alien workers rather than American ones at the same salary because there are no payroll taxes levied on the former as there are on the latter.
The “Low-immigration, Pro-immigrant” research organization said that the foreign student admission process “seems to run on the principles that:”
- Encouraging aliens to have a U.S. education is always an unqualified good;
- Every entity that calls itself an educational institution is one, and is equal to all others; and
- That there will be no governmental, stateside review of potential foreign students.
And while the educational services received by the illegal aliens who paid “outrageous fees” was “nominal” “if any,” CIS stated:
We also know that many of them sought out low-quality schools in the United States quite deliberately, as they were seeking paychecks, not valuable diplomas. They are not to be confused with anyone’s idea of the ‘best and the brightest.’
CIS estimates that the visa mills have approximately 40,000 alien students attending them currently and notes that terrorists have come into the country on student visas.
The immigration experts conclude “there is a strong argument to be made for seeking to reduce the roles of the Compromised Colleges or eliminating them from the foreign student business altogether.” They add, “we would like to point out that moving against these institutions should be one of the easier decisions in this field. It is a vaccination, not open-heart surgery.” They “suggest a menu of policy choices” including:
- Eliminating the OPT program and narrowing the CPT (Curicular Practical Training) Program
- Barring admission to all alien students seeking to attend educational institutions without current accreditation from an entity recognized by the Department of Education
- Creating an International-Student-Dependent (ISD) class of educational institutions
In addition to these three recommendations, the immigration experts also list supplements or alternatives which are organized under the agency that handles the specified related issues.
The CIS’ overstay report from May “indicates that foreign students as a group, are twice as likely to remain after their visas expire as nonimmigrants generally.”
These “fourth-rate” institutions also used their “university” designation to hire “suspiciously large numbers of aliens through the H-1B visa program, including, for example, English professors from Turkey.” Of course, “The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce,” the U.S. Department of Labor acknowledges on its website.