Suspect green card pledges bait students

TN News

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Overseas study packages being offered to students by several firms in Ho Chi Minh City are dangling the carrot of fast-tracked immigration, including green cards and permanent residencies, to countries like the US, Canada and Australia.

A small ad by Hiep A Company at says the company is looking to "recruit pharmacy students for study in the US. The students will be able to settle down there after three years."

Phuong Lan, president of the company, told Thanh Nien during a recent interview she has an office in the US that cooperates with the US State Department which has saved some citizenship tickets in the US for the company to give to its students.

Lan said the students will study and work at the same time in a pharmaceutical company in South California that she said was the biggest in the US.

She said students need to pay just US$35,000 that includes the tuition, visa and green card fees. The company staff help the students find accommodation and food.

The students will get the green card in around four months and obtain US citizenship three years later, Lan promised.

She said the company has sent documents of several students to the US and that her program is Vietnam's biggest investor in education institutions in the country.

However, the visa granting department at the US Consulate in HCMC said Vietnamese private companies cannot guarantee a work or immigration visa in the US for students after their study.

There's a limit for such visas and they must be approved by the US government, the consulate told Thanh Nien.

Those applying for student visas must prove that they are really students, that they can pay the tuition and that they plan to return to Vietnam, it said.

Duc Tu Overseas Study Company is recruiting young people to study nursing in Singapore with the promise that they can work and live in the US later.

According to the company, the students will study pre-nursing courses for between three to twelve months in Singapore. Then they will be given a visa to the US under the DirectNurse, an American Academic Alliance's program designed to provide an alternative pathway to foreign professionals or high school graduates to achieve a successful American qualified nursing career in the US.

The students can then work in the US for five years, an official of the company, whose name was not revealed, told Thanh Nien.

The course would cost the student just $14,900, the company said on its website.

Duc Tu said students can extend their work contract in the US to attend more training courses and get support to settle down there.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, head of the Overseas Labor Management Department under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said the ministry has not authorized any organization or agency to send nurses to the US.

Quynh said the US needs foreign labor but it has strict requirements. The work visa for nurses (H1A) is only given to people with nursing certificates granted by relevant agencies in the US. The nurses should also have a TOEFL score of 550 points.

Several companies are also guaranteeing employment and longer stays after study in Canada or Australia but do not tell students that immigration policies in these countries change from time to time. Usually, the countries give priority to those who can work in jobs that they need, especially those that require professional training, Vietnam News Agency cited Chris Evans, Australia's Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, as saying.

In July 2007, the Australian government loosened conditions on immigration from Asia while tightening that from Africa, prompting many companies in Vietnam to recruit more students with promises of helping them settle down in Australia.

But in May this year, the government changed its policy, cutting 219 jobs from the list that the country needs people for, including those that don't need much training such as hairdressing.

However, Thien Bao Company still recruits students as hairdressers with promises of well paid work abroad.

Some companies even inform applicants that they can study any subject in Australia and stay there without English competence or training.

The website gives official information about study in Canada.

Meanwhile the US consulate in HCMC has said it provides necessary information about visa applications to the US on its website and does not charge any consultancy fees.

Official information about study in the US has also been made available at EducationUSA - the US government education consulting agency - at its offices in HCMC and Hanoi.

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