Much before the Tri-Valley University scam that affected many Indians was exposed in the US, the American Consulate in Mumbai had expressed concern over the steep jump in lesser qualified student visa applications, a leaked US diplomatic cable has said.
According to the cable dated December 29, 2009, over the past year, Mumbai noted a marked rise in the number of lesser qualified student visa applicants, many of whom tended to apply to the same universities.
A study of students visa found that multiple transfers were not uncommon and 40 per cent of transfers were to a lower level degree programme.
"In a second random sample of applicants issued only for study at universities identified by adjudicators as attracting a higher number of unqualified applicants, the completion rate was lower, rate of terminations higher, and the number of transfers down was greater," it said.
Of the 18,682 F1 applications received in calendar year 2007, Mumbai's adjusted refusal rate for individuals was 21 per cent, the cable said.
An extraordinary number of repeat refusals inflates the refusal rate per application to 33 per cent.
"Unqualified F1 visa applicants appear for third, fourth, and sometimes seventh interviews hoping for a different decision," it said.
"Mumbai's refused student applicants are characterised by difficulty communicating in English (with or without anticipated English training on their I-20s), few or single university applications submitted, poor standardized test scores, financing by extended family dependant on agricultural income, and a rehearsed script of the reasons they selected the particular university," the cable said.
"Many of these applicants state that they found the school on the internet, but when pressed during the interview acknowledged that they applied based on a local recruiting agent's presentation," the cable said.
"A second trend of concern is universities that fail to update SEVIS status when students' residential addresses indicate they are not maintaining active status by registering for classes or working on authorised CPT/OPT," it said.
"These trends ensure that Mumbai adjudicators will continue to assess the intent of student applicants to complete their stated degree programme as a major factor in student visa adjudications," the cable said.
The US Consulate in Mumbai in fact conducted detailed investigations into the student visas issued by it and questioned as to how an Indian student admitted to a university in California was doing a job in suburb of Washington.