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A federal court has ruled that students who were deceived by a fake university created by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of a sting operation can sue the US government.

Last week, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision, thereby allowing Indian student Ravi Teja Tiyagurra to proceed with his lawsuit.

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What happened:
The University of Farmington, established under the Obama administration in 2015 in Michigan, aimed to expose student visa fraud. The operation was unveiled in 2019 when eight individuals were indicted for visa fraud and “harboring aliens for profit.” ICE’s plan involved creating a university with no classes, curriculum, or educators, which attracted students like Ravi, who believed it to be a legitimate institution. According to ICE,  “As part of the scheme, the defendants/recruiters assisted foreign citizen ‘students’ in fraudulently obtaining immigration documents from the school and facilitated the creation of false student records, including transcripts, for the purpose of deceiving immigration authorities. The illegal documents obtained as a result of the conspirators’ actions were based on false claims, false statements, and fraud since the purported foreign students had no intention of attending school, nor attended a single class, and were not bona fide students. All participants in the scheme knew that the school had no instructors or actual classes.”

Ravi, who applied in 2018 and paid $12,500 in tuition, alleges in his lawsuit that he received no education and was never refunded his money. Ravi filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and other defrauded students, accusing the government of breach of contract. He claims he entered into an agreement with the University of Farmington for educational services, which the university failed to fulfill.

The Department of Homeland Security has not commented on the appeals court decision.


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