I have often wondered about how many Chinese students, who seem to have only the slightest knowledge of English, get admitted to U.S. colleges and universities. Every year at about this time I am reminded of this as I volunteer helping graduate students with their income tax filings at a D.C.-area university. Many of these are F-1 foreign students.
A series of pleadings in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia offers a partial answer: Some of them cheat on their pre-admission language examinations.
It is a multi-step process. First, the would-be student obtains a legitimate passport from the Chinese government; second, the student (often through an intermediary) finds and pays a resident of China (of the right sex and about the right age) who speaks passable English; third, a photograph of the substitute is inserted into a phony Chinese passport, containing the substitute's photo and the name of the would-be student.
Then, fourth, the substitute appears with the phony passport for the (in-China) Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) and takes the test in the name of the would-be student; finally, that test score from the Educational Testing Service is passed on to the U.S. college, which then admits the would-be student.
I hate to say anything negative about ETS (when I was in college half a century ago their offices were literally across the street from my dorm room), but there is an additional step that needs to be taken, which is to photograph the test-taker (probably several times during the test) and print that along with the test scores. This step is required by the UK government, as a BBC broadcast on this problem reported several years ago.
Maybe our government should require that the TOEFL score and the photograph of the test-taker appear on the I-20 form that the university issues to the would-be student. The alien uses the I-20 to seek a student visa from an American consular officer.
The Philadelphia case involved six Chinese students, all of whom pleaded guilty and agreed to self-deportation, according to a press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). More information can be secured on these pleadings in PACER file 2:17-cr-00648-AB.