Students Can Sue Over Fake School Set Up By Feds, Court Says

Students Can Sue Over Fake School Set Up By Feds, Court Says

( – On June 25, a federal appeals court ruled that students of a fake university established by Immigration and Customs Enforcement can go ahead and sue the federal government. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a previous decision by a lower court to throw out a lawsuit which complained that the school was not official and that students were duped into applying and paying fees to attend.

The prior decision threw out student Teja Ravi’s suit which alleged the “University of Farmington,” based in Michigan, collected more than $6 million in fees. The school, however, was simply a front established by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target individuals engaging in student visa fraud. The elaborate visa fraud sting resulted in charges against eight people who were accused of engaging in student visa fraud and harboring immigrants in the United States illegally.

While the operation was successful, however, some 600 students were left out of pocket and without an education. A press release issued by the legal team representing Ravi also said many legal students “arbitrarily” lost their visas as a result of applying to attend the school. The release also alleged that, in some instances, students were held in immigration detention facilities.

The most recent ruling means that the lawsuit will now return to the trial court for new proceedings, though lawyers say it could be years before those impacted by the fake school will get a result through the courts.

“It’s been five years since the Farmington operation,” lawyer Anna Nathanson said in the statement, adding that the “need for justice is urgent.”

Plaintiff Ravi allegedly paid a total of $12,500 to the school, and two additional students said that they paid $10,000 and $15,000 to the fake school.

This isn’t the first time that ICE has created a fake school to catch foreign nationals engaging in visa fraud and Americans or other residents harboring undocumented migrants. ICE previously established the University of Northern New Jersey, located in Cranford, as part of an operation that led to charges against over 20 people. They were accused of fraudulently obtaining work and student visas for around 1,000 other individuals.

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