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Herguan University barred from enrolling students on F-1 visa, Indian students in peril

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Silicon Valley university was popular with Indian students.

Herguan University, a Silicon Valley college popular with students from India has been barred by the US government from recruiting foreign students on F-1 visa.

The move on Thursday comes a year and a half after former Herguan University CEO Jerry Wang pleaded guilty in federal court to providing false documents to the Department of Homeland Security.

It also means those attending Herguan on F-1 student visas have until January 11to transfer to another college — or leave the country. The school, which offers an MBA program and master’s degrees in computer science, has about 240 international students, 180 of whom are from India, according to an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The state agency charged with overseeing private, for-profit schools, however, said Herguan reported Aug. 1 that it had 90 students, reported Mercury News.

Herguan‘s president, Doreen Simmons, had told the Mercury News via e-mail, in June: “We have real students, real classes, real faculty, real staff, with real accreditation, and excellent outcomes.”

The school’s accreditor, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools — which also oversaw the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute — was stripped of its authority last month by the U.S. Department of Education. A department report found its oversight weak and inconsistent.

Wang, of Sunnyvale, served time in a Central Valley prison after pleading guilty in April 2015 in U.S. District Court to submitting more than 100 false documents to the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to skirt the rules for enrolling international students. He agreed to forfeit $700,000 and serve between three months and two years in prison.

The sentencing followed an investigation by Mercury News that found Herguan was among a group of Bay Area schools that misrepresented information on federal applications to sponsor overseas students.

In March 2014, a federal jury convicted another Bay Area university operator — Susan Su, founder of the now-defunct Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton — on charges of visa fraud, money laundering and alien harboring. Su was accused of running a sham school, charging foreign nationals millions of dollars to remain in the U.S. with falsified documents.

But while Tri-Valley has been closed for years, a slow-moving federal bureaucracy allowed Herguan to challenge such federal sanctions. Until Thursday, it remained in the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

The department did not provide the basis for the decision, saying only that the school was notified on Thursday that it cannot issue new visa forms to current or prospective students.