- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - A state university in southwest Ohio has announced that its foreign-worker visa program is under federal investigation.

Wright State University near Dayton says it has disciplined three administrators, including its provost, in connection with the investigation.

School leaders say in a statement first issued Monday that they were informed earlier this year of “credible evidence” that sometime between two and five years ago not every employee sponsored by the school under H-1B work visas was actually working for the school.

“That would violate federal law, and it concerns us greatly,” said the joint statement from university president David Hopkins and Michael Bridges, chairman of the board of trustees.

The H-1B visas are for foreign workers in specialty occupations such as computer science, engineering and biotechnology. The school says it usually sponsored fewer than 50 of the visas each year.

The university could face suspension of its ability to sponsor H-1B visas, and also fines and legal fees. The school says it is cooperating with federal investigators who are trying to determine whether criminal statutes were violated.

The school officials say they have been working with the Ohio attorney general’s office to uncover the facts, coordinate with federal authorities, and make sure the school is in compliance.

“We are taking strong actions to solve these problems,” their statement said. “We expect to take more actions in the near future and will announce them as soon as conditions permit.”

Wright State said that Sundaram Narayanan has been demoted from provost, while retaining his faculty status. Two university vice presidents will take over the provost’s duties. The school had placed him on paid leave in May.

Narayanan didn’t respond immediately Tuesday to an email seeking comment.

Another official was demoted, and a third official’s employment has been terminated, the school said.

The school said the fact-finding process at a university of more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff total is complex and time-consuming, but the officials pledged to “get this right” and said that those who failed to comply with the law “must be held accountable.”

A school spokesman declined any further comment Tuesday, citing the ongoing federal investigation. He declined to say which federal agencies were investigating.

“As a matter of policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation unless or until an enforcement action is pursued,” said Khaalid Walls, an ICE spokesman.

An FBI spokesman said he wasn’t aware of any bureau involvement.

___

Contact the reporter at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide