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F-1 Student Alert for Students at University of Farmington, MI

The University of Farmington (“Farmington”) was set up by DHS, set up to entice students who were looking for employment authorization with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) from day one, even though no classroom attendance was required for enrolling at the University. DHS alleges that students who had obtained employment authorization had, in fact, never enrolled in or attended any classes physically and should have known that this arrangement was in violation of U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

Based on information obtained so far, all the students’ Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records were terminated by the DHS on or about January 28, 2019. The basis for this termination of SEVIS records was the belief that the University’s students willfully violated their F-1 status. Therefore, all such students with terminated SEVIS records are subject to removal (also referred to as deportation) from the U.S. Any CPT authorization issued by a school that was set up by the government to entrap students is not valid. In addition, it is believed that the SEVIS records for all students previously enrolled at Farmington have already been terminated, which leaves all such students of this University, without valid status in the U.S.

From some information acquired by our Firm it looks like the students were notified about the fake university around 15 days back and gave them an opportunity to leave. It now appears that those students who did not depart the U.S. became subject to detention.

We expect that each student will receive a Notice to Appear (NTA), which is the charging document for removal proceedings in immigration court. Students subject to detention by ICE are expected to be released after the issuance of their NTAs and posting their bond with the respective immigration courts with jurisdiction over their cases. Law requires that the government must indicate the place and the date for the first master calendar hearing on the NTA. Those NTAs that do not contain this information can and should be challenged with the immigration court as improperly issued and invalid. You should discuss this strategy with your immigration counsel.

Those F-1 students who were enrolled at the University and have not yet been apprehended in the first several days after the shutdown of the University, should expect to be detained and served with NTAs at a later date. Those whom the government is unable or unwilling to apprehend may be served by mail with NTAs delivered to last known addresses.

Those students neither detained nor served with NTAs immediately following the shutdown nonetheless should expect difficulty when they attempt to change or adjust status, transfer to other schools, and/or apply for visas at U.S. consulates abroad, as explained below.

If the student is detained by ICE, they are subject to U.S. Immigration court proceedings. The proceedings give the student an opportunity to defend her/himself before an immigration judge. If a person departs after the NTA is issued, without Voluntary departure granted by the court, that individual will be subject to a minimum 5-year bar to reenter the U.S.

On the other hand, if a student leaves the U.S. before an NTA is issued, s/he is no longer within the jurisdiction of the immigration court. It is advisable in this case to have someone check the student’s mail and, if the NTA was issued by mail in the name of a student who already has departed the U.S., the departure should be communicated to the immigration court and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to terminate the removal proceedings.

Based on the Unlawful Presence Memo, the DHS is likely to argue that these students started accruing unlawful presence as far back as August 9, 2018, on the date that the memo was issued. Those students who do not depart the U.S. prior to February 5, 2019, which is the 180-day mark from August 9, 2018, likely will be subject to a 3 or 10-year bar. A departure after the issuance of the NTA will result in a 5-year bar. In the event that the government makes a finding of fraud against all or some of these students, they potentially could be subject to a permanent bar on admission to the U.S.

Please see the link for CPT/OPT requirements https://www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training.