Full-Time Foreign Students Going to Class Once a Month (and Working Full-Time Elsewhere)

By David North on June 6, 2018

The latest maneuver to create more foreign workers via the student (F-1) visa is tied to sabotaging the classroom schedule so that alien students can stay in status while going to class only once every four weeks, and possibly even less often.

The students fly or drive from considerable distances, jam 12 or more hours of instruction into a two- or three-day weekend, and then leave town. That allows them to work full-time, often in jobs partially subsidized by our all-too-careless government. (The subsidy comes through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programs.)

For those of us accustomed to going to class every weekday during college (and at my institution, mandatory attendance at weekend religious ceremonies at least half the time for underclassman) this sounds like a mockery of the educational system.

Wouldn't it be much better to spread the learning experience over time, with an opportunity to do some reading between classes, than to compress it into one long, occasional weekend?

Isn't it odd that the Department of Homeland Security accepts these strange arrangements as the equivalent of a full-time education, as it seems to? But, as we have noted before, the unit of ICE that handles the F-1 visa program is the sleepiest of the immigration-control agencies. It is the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

I recently encountered an article on Quartz that told of a perpetual foreign grad student it called Swamy who had used the flaws in our control of foreign students to secure three consecutive master's degrees in information technology — presumably using government-subsidized jobs in the CPT program throughout these years. Swamy must be going on 40 by now.

Swamy is now seeking his fourth degree and is doing so at a Kentucky university where he has to go to classes only "once a semester"; how long is a semester? Well, the reporter left that key bit of information unreported, and his school, the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., has a website that somehow does not mention the length of the semesters.

But let's assume that the timing is like that of another fly-in school, Harrisburg University, which at least has the honesty to spell out when the students have to be in classes. For the current semester, the on-campus dates in the "International Grad Executive Format" are May 4-6, June 16-17, and July 28-29.

In Swamy's case, he is regarded as a full-time student; he gets three credits for the monthly course, three more for an on-line course he is taking from the same place, and one more credit for the alleged training he is getting in his full-time job. That Swamy has been trying for an H-1B job, without luck, all these years, suggests to me (but not to Quartz) that he may not be one of the best and the brightest.

According to Quartz, another Kentucky institution, Campbellsville University, in the central part of the state, has a similar program.

Both of the Kentucky schools, unlike so many of the visa mills we see on the East and West Coasts, had long histories as Baptist schools before they noticed foreign students. Both have been aided financially by their new programs, according to Quartz.

And as is so often the case in the immigration business, the U.S. interests reaping the benefits of immigration never see the burdens. The two colleges and, indirectly, their hometowns, receive the tuition payments and the indirect effects caused by them, but do not house the students or absorb the impacts of such a population on their infrastructures or their labor markets.

It reminds me of a lopsided pattern that developed at Kwajalein, our rocket base in the Marshall Islands in the mid-Pacific. (I have no documentation for what follows, and the one time we landed there through passengers were not allowed off the plane. I was working for the islands office of the U.S. Department of the Interior at the time.)

It turns out that while a lot of physical labor is needed on the island, the Micronesian workers do not live on Kwajalein, they all reside on another nearby, but much less elegant island, Ebeye. The workers arrive on the inter-island ferry in the morning and leave at night, giving the military families a neat island, but one without any Micronesian inhabitants after six p.m. It is integrated by day and segregated at night.

Similarly, the Kentucky colleges are integrated by the alien students only about two days out of 30.