Friday, February 01, 2019 MISCELLANY

Skip Navigation Links
 
link
 
link
SUPPLEMENT

Visitor Login










Bangladesh on Graft Index: Slightly better, still a long way to go

Special Correspondent
 
Bangladesh has moved two notches up in the global Corruption Perceptions Index of 2017, but the scale of corruption in the country remains alarming, according to the Transparency International.
Among the 180 countries surveyed, Bangladesh ranked 143rd (17th from bottom), securing 28 points out of 100. The global average score is 43. 
In 2016, Bangladesh stood 145th among the 176 countries surveyed.
The latest score is the highest so far by Bangladesh since 2001, when the country was included in the index for the first time. Earlier in 2013, Bangladesh scored 27.
New Zealand scored the highest, 89, to top the 2017 list, followed by Denmark and Finland that scored 88 and 85.
Somalia became the most corrupt country for the eleventh time, scoring only nine. South Sudan and Syria secured 12 and 14 points to become second and third most corrupt countries.
The Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB), the Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based graft watchdog, shared the findings of the global survey at a press conference at its office in the capital’s Dhanmondi yesterday.
“This year’s findings can give us some relief, but there is nothing to be happy about it… We are not satisfied. We have to go a long way,” TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, revealing the report.
Bangladesh is still far away from achieving the global average score of 43, he said.
Besides, Bangladesh “embarrassingly” remains second lowest both in terms of score and rank among Saarc counties, better only than Afghanistan. It is also the fourth lowest among the 31 Asia Pacific countries, he said.  “This is not acceptable at all.”
The TI has been publishing the report every year since 1995. The index is based on perceived level of corruption in public sectors and misuse of public office or position.
Bangladesh was at the bottom of the TI scale for five years from 2001 to 2005.  The country started doing better in the following years with its score rising.
Bangladesh’s spot this year was shared by Guatemala, Kenya, Lebanon and Mauritania. 
Bangladesh’s rating is based on findings by eight globally-reputable survey sources. At least three such surveys are required to be eligible for inclusion in the TI index, he said.
The survey used data from 2016-2017, and no data generated by any of TI’s local chapter was considered for the analysis or global rating.
The surveys, used for rating Bangladesh, are World Economic Forum-Executive Opinion Survey, Economist Intelligence Unit-Country Risk Assessment, World Justice Project-Rule of Law Index, Political Risk Service (PRS) International Country Risk Guide, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index,  Information Handling Services (HIS) Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, World Bank-Country Policy and Institutional Assessment and Varieties of Democracy Project.
 
REASONS, RECOMMENDATIONS
Bangladesh earned positive perceptions on potentials of legal, institutional and policy context, Iftekharuzzaman said.
Positive impression about benefits of digitisation, including e-procurement, also played a role.
However, although Bangladesh’s spot and score have seen a rise over the last few years, it lacks speed and consistency, he said.
The factors that prevented Bangladesh from doing better include non-fulfilment of government’s commitment to curb corruption; high-profile corruption rarely addressed; political and government position perceived as means of enrichment; unabated land, river and waterbody grabbing; weakening accountable institutions; denial syndrome, impunity; lacking in effectiveness and independence of the Anti-Corruption Commission; and shrinking media and civil society space.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission has played a proactive role recently, especially in the last two years…. But we think the Commission has a ‘dedicated off-line’ when it comes to the cases of high-profile people or corruption in financial sector,” he said.
It will not be possible to control corruption until parliament and its committees play active roles to hold the government accountable, he added.
For better performance, the report recommended bringing the corrupt to justice irrespective of their status or identity; building effective institutions including parliament and the ACC; ensuring robust access to information; and increasing space for citizens, the media, civil society and NGOs.
 
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
None of the 180 countries surveyed scored 100, meaning corruption remains a major challenge for every country, said Iftekharuzzaman.
Of the total, 124 countries (69%) scored below 50 while 107 countries (59%) scored less than the global average of 43.
Singapore is the only Asian country to be on the top-10 performers list. It scored 84 and ranked sixth.
India ranked 81 with a score of 40 while Pakistan ranked 117, scoring 32.
The TI found that almost all journalists killed since 2012 were killed in corrupt countries. In the last six years, more than nine out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the CPI.
 
‘A BIG MESSAGE’
The conviction of Khaleda Zia in a corruption case is a” big message”, said Iftekharuzzaman.
Asked if Khaleda’s conviction had any impact on the ranking, he said the surveys for preparing the index were done before the verdict.
It may have an impact in the next year’s index, he added.
“However, one or two incidents are not enough.” 
Corruption cases were filed against Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, and Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister, during the last caretaker government.
The cases against Hasina were quashed by courts after the Awami League took office.
When a journalist pointed this out, Iftekharuzzaman said, “We want trials to proceed without considering their [accused] identity and status. Those in position should discharge their duties keeping in mind that everyone is equal before the law.”
 
‘TI report unacceptable”: ACC Chairman
Transparency International’s latest report on graft will not be accepted unless the causes of rising corruption in Bangladesh is addressed, Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Iqbal Mahmud said Tuesday.
“I’m yet to receive the report,” he said adding, “But it will not be acceptable if Transparency International fails to mention its methodology and causes of rising corruption in the report.”
The ACC chair made the comments at his office in Dhaka while replying to a query about Bangladesh’s position in Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 revealed by the TI today.
The report said Bangladesh has gone down in the corruption index – falling six places in world ranking. Bangladesh ranked 149 in the world, six places lower than where it stood in 2017, earning two points lower. The position was 13th from bottom.
“I always welcome such report. We will fix our course of action if the organisation (TI) mentions the sectors in which graft has raised,” he said.

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
Bangladesh has moved two notches up in the global Corruption Perceptions Index of 2017, but the scale of corruption in the country remains alarming, according to the Transparency International.
Among the 180 countries surveyed, Bangladesh ranked 143rd (17th from bottom), securing 28 points out of 100. The global average score is 43. 
In 2016, Bangladesh stood 145th among the 176 countries surveyed.
The latest score is the highest so far by Bangladesh since 2001, when the country was included in the index for the first time. Earlier in 2013, Bangladesh scored 27.
New Zealand scored the highest, 89, to top the 2017 list, followed by Denmark and Finland that scored 88 and 85.
Somalia became the most corrupt country for the eleventh time, scoring only nine. South Sudan and Syria secured 12 and 14 points to become second and third most corrupt countries.
The Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB), the Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based graft watchdog, shared the findings of the global survey at a press conference at its office in the capital’s Dhanmondi yesterday.
“This year’s findings can give us some relief, but there is nothing to be happy about it… We are not satisfied. We have to go a long way,” TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, revealing the report.
Bangladesh is still far away from achieving the global average score of 43, he said.
Besides, Bangladesh “embarrassingly” remains second lowest both in terms of score and rank among Saarc counties, better only than Afghanistan. It is also the fourth lowest among the 31 Asia Pacific countries, he said.  “This is not acceptable at all.”
The TI has been publishing the report every year since 1995. The index is based on perceived level of corruption in public sectors and misuse of public office or position.
Bangladesh was at the bottom of the TI scale for five years from 2001 to 2005.  The country started doing better in the following years with its score rising.
Bangladesh’s spot this year was shared by Guatemala, Kenya, Lebanon and Mauritania. 
Bangladesh’s rating is based on findings by eight globally-reputable survey sources. At least three such surveys are required to be eligible for inclusion in the TI index, he said.
The survey used data from 2016-2017, and no data generated by any of TI’s local chapter was considered for the analysis or global rating.
The surveys, used for rating Bangladesh, are World Economic Forum-Executive Opinion Survey, Economist Intelligence Unit-Country Risk Assessment, World Justice Project-Rule of Law Index, Political Risk Service (PRS) International Country Risk Guide, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index,  Information Handling Services (HIS) Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, World Bank-Country Policy and Institutional Assessment and Varieties of Democracy Project.
 
REASONS, RECOMMENDATIONS
Bangladesh earned positive perceptions on potentials of legal, institutional and policy context, Iftekharuzzaman said.
Positive impression about benefits of digitisation, including e-procurement, also played a role.
However, although Bangladesh’s spot and score have seen a rise over the last few years, it lacks speed and consistency, he said.
The factors that prevented Bangladesh from doing better include non-fulfilment of government’s commitment to curb corruption; high-profile corruption rarely addressed; political and government position perceived as means of enrichment; unabated land, river and waterbody grabbing; weakening accountable institutions; denial syndrome, impunity; lacking in effectiveness and independence of the Anti-Corruption Commission; and shrinking media and civil society space.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission has played a proactive role recently, especially in the last two years…. But we think the Commission has a ‘dedicated off-line’ when it comes to the cases of high-profile people or corruption in financial sector,” he said.
It will not be possible to control corruption until parliament and its committees play active roles to hold the government accountable, he added.
For better performance, the report recommended bringing the corrupt to justice irrespective of their status or identity; building effective institutions including parliament and the ACC; ensuring robust access to information; and increasing space for citizens, the media, civil society and NGOs.
 
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
None of the 180 countries surveyed scored 100, meaning corruption remains a major challenge for every country, said Iftekharuzzaman.
Of the total, 124 countries (69%) scored below 50 while 107 countries (59%) scored less than the global average of 43.
Singapore is the only Asian country to be on the top-10 performers list. It scored 84 and ranked sixth.
India ranked 81 with a score of 40 while Pakistan ranked 117, scoring 32.
The TI found that almost all journalists killed since 2012 were killed in corrupt countries. In the last six years, more than nine out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the CPI.
 
‘A BIG MESSAGE’
The conviction of Khaleda Zia in a corruption case is a” big message”, said Iftekharuzzaman.
Asked if Khaleda’s conviction had any impact on the ranking, he said the surveys for preparing the index were done before the verdict.
It may have an impact in the next year’s index, he added.
“However, one or two incidents are not enough.” 
Corruption cases were filed against Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, and Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister, during the last caretaker government.
The cases against Hasina were quashed by courts after the Awami League took office.
When a journalist pointed this out, Iftekharuzzaman said, “We want trials to proceed without considering their [accused] identity and status. Those in position should discharge their duties keeping in mind that everyone is equal before the law.”
 
‘TI report unacceptable”: ACC Chairman
Transparency International’s latest report on graft will not be accepted unless the causes of rising corruption in Bangladesh is addressed, Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Iqbal Mahmud said Tuesday.
“I’m yet to receive the report,” he said adding, “But it will not be acceptable if Transparency International fails to mention its methodology and causes of rising corruption in the report.”
The ACC chair made the comments at his office in Dhaka while replying to a query about Bangladesh’s position in Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 revealed by the TI today.
The report said Bangladesh has gone down in the corruption index – falling six places in world ranking. Bangladesh ranked 149 in the world, six places lower than where it stood in 2017, earning two points lower. The position was 13th from bottom.
“I always welcome such report. We will fix our course of action if the organisation (TI) mentions the sectors in which graft has raised,” he said.

Login to post comments


(0)



Oikyafront cent percent united: Dr Kamal

Special Correspondent
 
Jatiya Oikyafront convener Dr Kamal Hossain on Wednesday said their alliance is cent percent united with the country’s 16 crore people.
He, however, did not make any comment whether his party’s (Gono Forum’s) two MPs-elect will join parliament or not. “Our Jatiya Oikyafront is cent percent united. Our unity is forged with the country’s 16 crore people,” he said.
He came up with the remarks while addressing a preparatory meeting of Gonoforum for its 5th national council at the party’s Arambagh central office. Dr Kamal further said, “I visited many places and found our alliance’s unity intact and it’ll be consolidated in the days to come.”
He said their alliance’s aim is to gather strength further involving all and give it an institutional shape. The Oikyafront chief said people now believe they are the owners of the country and its resources. “All power belongs to people who want the rule of law in the country. Let’s examine whether such unity among people exists or not.”
He called upon all to get organised and remain alert so that no one can embezzle or waste the country’s resources. “We must remain aware of evil and anti-people forces who want to misappropriate our assets.”
Dr Kamal said a national unity can protect people’s interests and their ownership of the state. He called upon Gono Forum leaders and activists to strengthen their party from its grassroots. “We’ll visit all districts, thanas, and unions to strengthen the party by organising people.”
Sought his comment on the maiden session of the 11th parliament, the Oikyafront convener said they will come up with their statement on the issue later.
Asked whether Gono Forum’s two MPs-elect will take oath, he said, “It’s not the right issue to discuss here. We’ll talk about the issue later at a press conference. Now we’re talking about giving the national unity an institutional shape.”
Dr Kamal called upon people to get organised across the country so that Oikyafront can play an effective role in protecting the national interests.
Gono Forum’s fifth council will be held on March 23 and 24 in the capital. The party formed a 101-member preparatory committee for the council making Subrata Chowdhury its convener and AHM Shafiq Ullah member secretary. UNB

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
Jatiya Oikyafront convener Dr Kamal Hossain on Wednesday said their alliance is cent percent united with the country’s 16 crore people.
He, however, did not make any comment whether his party’s (Gono Forum’s) two MPs-elect will join parliament or not. “Our Jatiya Oikyafront is cent percent united. Our unity is forged with the country’s 16 crore people,” he said.
He came up with the remarks while addressing a preparatory meeting of Gonoforum for its 5th national council at the party’s Arambagh central office. Dr Kamal further said, “I visited many places and found our alliance’s unity intact and it’ll be consolidated in the days to come.”
He said their alliance’s aim is to gather strength further involving all and give it an institutional shape. The Oikyafront chief said people now believe they are the owners of the country and its resources. “All power belongs to people who want the rule of law in the country. Let’s examine whether such unity among people exists or not.”
He called upon all to get organised and remain alert so that no one can embezzle or waste the country’s resources. “We must remain aware of evil and anti-people forces who want to misappropriate our assets.”
Dr Kamal said a national unity can protect people’s interests and their ownership of the state. He called upon Gono Forum leaders and activists to strengthen their party from its grassroots. “We’ll visit all districts, thanas, and unions to strengthen the party by organising people.”
Sought his comment on the maiden session of the 11th parliament, the Oikyafront convener said they will come up with their statement on the issue later.
Asked whether Gono Forum’s two MPs-elect will take oath, he said, “It’s not the right issue to discuss here. We’ll talk about the issue later at a press conference. Now we’re talking about giving the national unity an institutional shape.”
Dr Kamal called upon people to get organised across the country so that Oikyafront can play an effective role in protecting the national interests.
Gono Forum’s fifth council will be held on March 23 and 24 in the capital. The party formed a 101-member preparatory committee for the council making Subrata Chowdhury its convener and AHM Shafiq Ullah member secretary. UNB

Login to post comments


(0)



Uzbekistan is the heart of Central Asia: UNESCO

Uzbekistan ranked 5th in the safest countries for single tourists.
President of the UNESCO project “The Great Silk Road” José Mario Cicillo has  mentioned  Uzbekistan, as  the heart of Central Asia. 
“We are talking about Uzbekistan, which is the heart of Central Asia,” José Mario Cicillo said. Said adding   that Uzbekistan plays a fundamental role, since its cities are located on the historical Great Silk Road.
All measures taken by the government of Uzbekistan in the sphere of tourism have a positive effect on the country’s image on the world stage, he added.
He noted that for UNESCO Uzbekistan is an exemplary state, a country in which all the issues that we want to show as an example for the countries participating in our project were evaluated.
“The role of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in international politics is important, as evidenced by his recent visit to the UN. And this is not only in the sphere of tourism, but also in democratization, all these steps forward. I think that Uzbekistan will play a very important role in the near future, as the central axis of geopolitics in Central Asia, ”he said.
“This is great news that tourists can now visit your amazing country, having visited not only the capital, but also Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, the Fergana Valley and Margilan. Uzbekistan is an attractive destination for tourism, so I think this is a good decision taken by the government to have more and more tourists visit these magnificent cities,” José Mario Chicillo said.
Earlier, Wegoplace online travel service published the  Solo Travel Safety Report 2019, which reported which countries would be the safest for single tourists in 2019.
The report was based on a survey of residents of 142 countries according to several criteria, among which were questions about how safe they feel when walking alone in the city at night, whether they trust the local police and whether they have been robbed or attacked.
Singapore has the highest security index (97 units). It is followed by Norway, Iceland and Finland, each with a safety index of 93 units.
According to the press service of the State Committee for Tourism of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan ranked fifth in the ranking (91 units), followed by Hong Kong (91 units), Switzerland (91 units), Canada (90 units), Indonesia (89 units) and Denmark (88 units).
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan decided to  launch the Silk Visa general program in February 2019. This was stated by the Acting First Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Tourism Ulugbek Kasimhodjaev.
According to him, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan agreed on the draft Silk Visa in their departments. He added that the parties should agree on technical details and equipment.
Kasimkhodjaev underlined that other countries in the region are also showing interest in this project. Among them are Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. At the same time, Kazakhstan also proposes to connect Azerbaijan and Turkey to this project.
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on mutual recognition of visa regimes by the countries of the Silk Road in mid-November.

Comment

Uzbekistan ranked 5th in the safest countries for single tourists.
President of the UNESCO project “The Great Silk Road” José Mario Cicillo has  mentioned  Uzbekistan, as  the heart of Central Asia. 
“We are talking about Uzbekistan, which is the heart of Central Asia,” José Mario Cicillo said. Said adding   that Uzbekistan plays a fundamental role, since its cities are located on the historical Great Silk Road.
All measures taken by the government of Uzbekistan in the sphere of tourism have a positive effect on the country’s image on the world stage, he added.
He noted that for UNESCO Uzbekistan is an exemplary state, a country in which all the issues that we want to show as an example for the countries participating in our project were evaluated.
“The role of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in international politics is important, as evidenced by his recent visit to the UN. And this is not only in the sphere of tourism, but also in democratization, all these steps forward. I think that Uzbekistan will play a very important role in the near future, as the central axis of geopolitics in Central Asia, ”he said.
“This is great news that tourists can now visit your amazing country, having visited not only the capital, but also Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, the Fergana Valley and Margilan. Uzbekistan is an attractive destination for tourism, so I think this is a good decision taken by the government to have more and more tourists visit these magnificent cities,” José Mario Chicillo said.
Earlier, Wegoplace online travel service published the  Solo Travel Safety Report 2019, which reported which countries would be the safest for single tourists in 2019.
The report was based on a survey of residents of 142 countries according to several criteria, among which were questions about how safe they feel when walking alone in the city at night, whether they trust the local police and whether they have been robbed or attacked.
Singapore has the highest security index (97 units). It is followed by Norway, Iceland and Finland, each with a safety index of 93 units.
According to the press service of the State Committee for Tourism of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan ranked fifth in the ranking (91 units), followed by Hong Kong (91 units), Switzerland (91 units), Canada (90 units), Indonesia (89 units) and Denmark (88 units).
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan decided to  launch the Silk Visa general program in February 2019. This was stated by the Acting First Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Tourism Ulugbek Kasimhodjaev.
According to him, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan agreed on the draft Silk Visa in their departments. He added that the parties should agree on technical details and equipment.
Kasimkhodjaev underlined that other countries in the region are also showing interest in this project. Among them are Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. At the same time, Kazakhstan also proposes to connect Azerbaijan and Turkey to this project.
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on mutual recognition of visa regimes by the countries of the Silk Road in mid-November.

Login to post comments


(0)



US announces priority to foreign workers with American degree

Online Agencies
 
The United States on Wednesday announced that starting April 1, it will switch to a new system for processing H-1B petitions that will give priority to foreign workers with advanced degrees from an American institution of higher education, over those hired abroad, in India, China and other countries.
The new system will also introduce electronic registration of petitions, which, however, will be suspended for the upcoming H-1B 2020 season that will typically kick off from April 1.
The switch in the selection process is expected to increase the number of beneficiaries with advanced degrees from US institutions by an estimated 16% (or 5,340 workers). It is in line with President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions in support of merit-based immigration.
Francis Cissna, director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs the H-1B visa programme, gave a nod to Trump in a statement announcing the new rule and said, “US employers seeking to employ foreign workers with an American masters or higher degree will have a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas.”
Trump had himself signalled the new rule in a tweet earlier this month in which he had said “changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship”. And, he had added, “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US.”
The US grants 65,000 visas to foreigner workers hired abroad for speciality professions sponsored by American employers every year under a congressionally mandated cap. Another 20,000 visas are granted to foreigners with advanced degree from US colleges and universities. 
More than 70% of the total visas go to Indian beneficiaries hired by both US companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, and US arms of Indian outsourcing giants such as Infosys, TCS and Wipro.
Starting April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, who would earlier have been set aside for the advanced degree category only.
The immigration agency would then select from the remaining eligible petitions to fill the category for advanced degree exemption. This is expected to push up the number of advanced degrees beneficiaries by 16%. “The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the financial year 2020 H-1B cap season,” USCIS said.
 
Indian students face jail, deportation in US college scam
Meanwhile, hundreds of students from India face deportation or criminal charges after the arrest Wednesday of eight men of Indian origin who had enrolled them at a fake university run by undercover US agents.
The arrests were followed by raids to snare racketeers who misuse the student visa to help unqualified foreigners to stay and work in the US. The justice department’s Michigan branch announced the arrest of the eight men, whose names indicated they were either Indians or American citizens of Indian descent, from all over the country and charged them with visa fraud and harbouring aliens for profit, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.
The alleged recruiters arrested were identified as Barath Kakireddy, of Florida; Suresh Kandala, of Virginia; Phanideep Karnati, of Kentucky; Prem Rampeesa, of North Carolina; Santosh Sama, of California; Avinash Thakkallapally, of Pennsylvania; Aswanth Nune, of Georgia; and Naveen Prathipati, of Texas,
A number of students enrolled in this fake institution, University of Farmington in Michigan state, were also taken into custody by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an early morning swoop all over the country.
The number of students apprehended could be around 200, according to sources and witness accounts, of the total of an estimated 600 enrolled. But, those in the know warned, all 600 could be on the deportation list and some of them could be looking at a jail term as well.
There was no response from ICE to requests for information about the number of Indian students arrested or detained and their fate.
In one of the early morning raids, as described in second-hand account, government agents asked students to name their professors at the school to test whether they were complicit in the scam — of enrolling in a school knowing it had never held classes, because it wasn’t meant to.
“Don’t worry, we know you can’t name them,” one agent is said to have told the student.
University of Farmington was a fake institution started and run by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security since 2015, said one of the three related with indictments that were unsealed Wednesday.
The enrolled students, the indictments alleged, were not victims of the scam, but wilful collaborators. “Each of the foreign citizens who ‘enrolled’ and made ‘tuition’ payments to the University knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits, or make academic progress toward an actual degree in a particular field of study- a “pay to stay’’ scheme.
“Rather, their intent was to fraudulently maintain their student visa status and to obtain work authorization under the CPT (a course-related curricular training programme that allows off-campus work authorization for foreign students).
“Each student knew that the University’s program was not approved by the United States Department of Homeland Security (”DHS”), was illegal, and that discretion should be used when discussing the program with others.”
This was the second such operation staged by US authorities to catch and punish those suspected of misusing the student visa programme. In 2016, US authorities used a sting-operation on a university in New Jersey state for the same purpose, And they reported success with arrests of 11 Indians or those of Indian descent, along with 11 Chinese, or Americans of Chinese descent. The scam was the same, with ethnically diverse perpetrators.
“We are all aware that international students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended international student visa program can also be exploited and abused,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider, who spearheads the prosecution of the case.

Comment

Online Agencies
 
The United States on Wednesday announced that starting April 1, it will switch to a new system for processing H-1B petitions that will give priority to foreign workers with advanced degrees from an American institution of higher education, over those hired abroad, in India, China and other countries.
The new system will also introduce electronic registration of petitions, which, however, will be suspended for the upcoming H-1B 2020 season that will typically kick off from April 1.
The switch in the selection process is expected to increase the number of beneficiaries with advanced degrees from US institutions by an estimated 16% (or 5,340 workers). It is in line with President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions in support of merit-based immigration.
Francis Cissna, director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs the H-1B visa programme, gave a nod to Trump in a statement announcing the new rule and said, “US employers seeking to employ foreign workers with an American masters or higher degree will have a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas.”
Trump had himself signalled the new rule in a tweet earlier this month in which he had said “changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship”. And, he had added, “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US.”
The US grants 65,000 visas to foreigner workers hired abroad for speciality professions sponsored by American employers every year under a congressionally mandated cap. Another 20,000 visas are granted to foreigners with advanced degree from US colleges and universities. 
More than 70% of the total visas go to Indian beneficiaries hired by both US companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, and US arms of Indian outsourcing giants such as Infosys, TCS and Wipro.
Starting April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, who would earlier have been set aside for the advanced degree category only.
The immigration agency would then select from the remaining eligible petitions to fill the category for advanced degree exemption. This is expected to push up the number of advanced degrees beneficiaries by 16%. “The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the financial year 2020 H-1B cap season,” USCIS said.
 
Indian students face jail, deportation in US college scam
Meanwhile, hundreds of students from India face deportation or criminal charges after the arrest Wednesday of eight men of Indian origin who had enrolled them at a fake university run by undercover US agents.
The arrests were followed by raids to snare racketeers who misuse the student visa to help unqualified foreigners to stay and work in the US. The justice department’s Michigan branch announced the arrest of the eight men, whose names indicated they were either Indians or American citizens of Indian descent, from all over the country and charged them with visa fraud and harbouring aliens for profit, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.
The alleged recruiters arrested were identified as Barath Kakireddy, of Florida; Suresh Kandala, of Virginia; Phanideep Karnati, of Kentucky; Prem Rampeesa, of North Carolina; Santosh Sama, of California; Avinash Thakkallapally, of Pennsylvania; Aswanth Nune, of Georgia; and Naveen Prathipati, of Texas,
A number of students enrolled in this fake institution, University of Farmington in Michigan state, were also taken into custody by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an early morning swoop all over the country.
The number of students apprehended could be around 200, according to sources and witness accounts, of the total of an estimated 600 enrolled. But, those in the know warned, all 600 could be on the deportation list and some of them could be looking at a jail term as well.
There was no response from ICE to requests for information about the number of Indian students arrested or detained and their fate.
In one of the early morning raids, as described in second-hand account, government agents asked students to name their professors at the school to test whether they were complicit in the scam — of enrolling in a school knowing it had never held classes, because it wasn’t meant to.
“Don’t worry, we know you can’t name them,” one agent is said to have told the student.
University of Farmington was a fake institution started and run by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security since 2015, said one of the three related with indictments that were unsealed Wednesday.
The enrolled students, the indictments alleged, were not victims of the scam, but wilful collaborators. “Each of the foreign citizens who ‘enrolled’ and made ‘tuition’ payments to the University knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits, or make academic progress toward an actual degree in a particular field of study- a “pay to stay’’ scheme.
“Rather, their intent was to fraudulently maintain their student visa status and to obtain work authorization under the CPT (a course-related curricular training programme that allows off-campus work authorization for foreign students).
“Each student knew that the University’s program was not approved by the United States Department of Homeland Security (”DHS”), was illegal, and that discretion should be used when discussing the program with others.”
This was the second such operation staged by US authorities to catch and punish those suspected of misusing the student visa programme. In 2016, US authorities used a sting-operation on a university in New Jersey state for the same purpose, And they reported success with arrests of 11 Indians or those of Indian descent, along with 11 Chinese, or Americans of Chinese descent. The scam was the same, with ethnically diverse perpetrators.
“We are all aware that international students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended international student visa program can also be exploited and abused,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider, who spearheads the prosecution of the case.

Login to post comments


(0)



METROPOLITAN
EDITORIAL
INTERNATIONAL
COMMENTS
BUSINESS
INFOTECH
CULTURE
MISCELLANY
AVIATOUR
LETTERS
LAST WORD
FOUNDING EDITOR: ENAYETULLAH KHAN; EDITOR: SAYED KAMALUDDIN
Contents Copyrighted © by Holiday Publication Limited
Mailing address 30, Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh.
Phone 880-2-8170462, 8170463, 8170464 Fax 880-2-9127927 Email weeklyholiday65@gmail.com
Site Managed By: Southtech Group
Southtech Group does not take any responsibility for any news content of this site