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The US Wednesday assured India of ‘fair and appropriate treatment’ of around 1,500 Indian students affected by the closure of by a sham California-based university and said that it was committed to protecting them from predatory visa fraud rings.

‘We are working closely with the Indian Government on the issue of Tri-Valley University and ensuring the fair and appropriate treatment of Indian students,’ US ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said in New Delhi.

Empathising with Indian students who ended up victims of Tri-Valley University that was shut down, the envoy warned prospective students of the dangers of predatory visa fraud rings and reiterated the US’ commitment ‘to protect them from committing visa fraud.’

‘Visa fraud has universally harmful effects, whether it is committed by Americans or Indians, and can diminish opportunities for other aspiring students,’ he said.

‘It is wrong to fraudulently exploit the hopes and dreams of young students for financial gain and it is important that all prospective students take advantage of the free resources offered to them by the embassy and fully research the academic options available to them,’ he said.

Some 1,555 students of the ‘sham’ Tri-Valley University (TVU) in California, 90 percent of them from India – mostly from Andhra Pradesh – face the prospect of deportation unless they can get admission in another institution to retain their student visa status.

In Washington, US Undersecretary of State Bill Burns assured visiting Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Tuesday that the US was looking at a fair solution of the issue.

Raising this ‘very important subject’ with Burns, Rao conveyed India’s concern over the welfare of the students and said the future of a large number of a qualified students should not be affected.

Rao said she told Burns that as many of the Indian students were not involved in any illegal activity they should be enabled to find placement in alternative institutions. Burns assured her that this is what the US was looking at to work out a ‘fair solution’.

The US reassurance of fair treatment of Indian students came days after External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna spoke to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the welfare of Indian students affected by the closure of Tri-Valley University.

Alluding to ‘open, widely publicized and well-attended information sessions’ organised by the US embassy and its consulates across India, Roemer said in New Delhi that all students wishing to study in the U.S. are strongly encouraged to attend these free seminars.

The embassy also frequently offers online webchats for students unable to physically attend a seminar, he said while stressing that the US was very proud to host the more than 100,000 Indian students studying in America.

The Indian embassy in Washington is going to be in touch with the State Department ‘very systematically’ for seeking a solution that would help students find alternative placement without affecting their future, Rao had said in Washington.

Rao said she did not believe that the issue would affect the image of Indian students, whose capability is ranked among the very best in the US. Over 100,000 students come from India every year and she hoped the flow would continue.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Clinton and Burns, Indian ambassador to the US Meera Shankar had conveyed to Clinton the details on the issue of Indian students of TVU.

Shankar sent the details to Clinton after Krishna sought her personal intervention in a telephonic talk over the weekend to ensure that the interests of Indian students of the sham university are protected and their future is not jeopardised.

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