Reddy & Neumann, P.C. has received reports which lead to the belief of another possible sting operation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), similar to that of Farmington University. If you recall, in early 2019 ICE raided multiple worksites containing Day 1 CPT students authorized by the Farmington University in Farmington Hills, Michigan. It was later confirmed that DHS created the University of Farmington as a fake university to lure F-1 students who are trying to stay in the U.S. illegally.
The institute in question, located in a warehouse unit next to a USCIS office in Tampa, Florida has been suspected to be “fake,” made to lure students looking for work authorization through their F-1 visas. Since February 2019, Partner Rahul Reddy has alleged that this institute may be fake, and voiced his suspicions to media outlets such as the New York Times and Vice News. According to reports, individuals could call the institute on the phone, give passport details via the call, and receive an I-20 with CPT authorization via e-mail almost immediately without submitting any documents of any kind to the institute.
Students of this institute recently received a letter from ICE’s SEVP School Certification Unit dated March 13, 2020, stating that the institute is no longer accredited since March 13, 2020. The SEVP has withdrawn the school’s approval for attendance of nonimmigrant students since March 13, 2020. The letter also notified students that because the school is no longer SEVP certified, their CPT cannot be supported. Students were asked to transfer to another SEVP certified school to begin a new program of study.
As a reminder, participation in CPT is available only before an international student completes the degree program, and the CPT employment must be an essential part of the school’s existing curriculum. The student must also meet additional requirements to qualify for CPT, which includes obtaining authorization from the school’s Designated School Official (DSO). Typically, students are only eligible for CPT if they have been studying full-time for at least one year. However, some schools enable students to participate in CPT during the first year of the student. Those who join CPT within the first academic year, also known as Day 1 CPT, often face obstacles when they later attempt to transfer to H-1B status.
By: Rahul Reddy
Rahul is the founding partner of Reddy & Neumann P.C. His practice covers employment-based immigration, in which he represents corporate clients in far-ranging industries.