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Blacklisted Day 1 CPT Universities in the U.S. & How to Identify Them?

Blacklisted Day 1 CPT Universities in the U.S. & How to Identify Them?

With their low tuition and flexible on-site requirements, Campbellsville and the University of the Cumberlands were, once upon a time, the greatest contributors to bringing international students to Kentucky. Around 2019 and 2020, they together attracted 84% of Kentucky’s international master’s students.

However, if you check the data from ICE (see picture below), you’ll notice that their intake of international students drastically declined by nearly 35% in the past 2 years. What happened?

In 2019, ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a pioneering operation resulting in the arrest of numerous foreign students. These students were all enrolled at the non-existent University of Farmington, a fictitious institution created as part of an elaborate sting organized by ICE back in 2015. The primary objective of this undercover operation was to dismantle and counteract the widespread “pay-to-stay” immigration schemes that had been exploiting the system. 

During those years, the overall number of international students was declining across the country. With exceptional increasing of intaking numbers, Campbellsville and the University of the Cumberlands becomes the “black sheep” among higher education institutions. Although both schools are accredited, supervisors assured their students that everything was legitimate, shadowed by the “University of Farmington case”, many start to worry that with a similar Curricular Practical Training (CPT) setup, these two universities might become the next target for ICE, resulting in the decreasing enrollment in the coming years. Immigration lawyers also expressed their concerns about how these Day 1 CPT programs were established, despite the claim made by the then associate vice president of enrollment at UC, Terry Jarboe, stating “It [day 1 CPT program] is an improved version of higher education”.

After the incidents, both universities implement minor reforms to further ensure the legitimacy of their programs, including but not limited to increasing the on-site frequency; opening new campuses near big companies; collaborating with big enterprises like IBM to boost STEM students’ legitimate employment rate; raising the bar for F1 status maintenance; being strict on CPT renewal requirements, etc. Obviously, even though these two universities were frequently brought up when mentioning the “University of Farmington case”, they are safe choices for international students now.

So, a more interesting and often-asked question associated with the above cases is:

Is there an official blacklist of Day 1 CPT Universities? And will the USCIS or the ICE update this list from time to time according to schools’ new actions?

Contrary to the existence of an official blacklist like the Debarred Companies list for H1B sponsors, there is no such designated list published by USCIS, SEVP, or the US Department of State for F1 students. While incidents such as the Tri-Valley State University raids in 2011 impacted 1555 international students, prompting concerns, there is no officially recognized compilation of blacklisted schools.

In the absence of an official list, students have taken matters into their own hands, creating their own lists based on parameters like lack of accreditation or other factors. However, it’s important to note that such lists are not officially recognized or endorsed by any government agency. Therefore, when individuals come across a list of blacklisted universities in the US, it is essentially a compilation made by aspirants according to their own criteria, labeling certain schools as unfavorable.

Identifying Blacklisted Universities: What Traits to Watch Out For 

1.     Accepting Low-Profile Students without Standard Requirements

A common feature of blacklisted Day 1 CPT schools is their acceptance of students with significantly low academic profiles. For example, although it is common to waive language requirements for transfer F1 students, some unaccredited Day 1 CPT universities even try to waive language requirements for those who had never been educated in an English-speaking country.

2.     Lack of Proper Accreditation

Lack of accreditation or accreditations awarded by unrecognized entities (Accreditation Mills) should be a red flag for students. Regional accreditation is more important than national accreditation in the U.S. 

3.     Involvement in Illegal Activities and Violating Rules

Day 1 CPT universities engaged in illegal activities, such as visa fraud, come under scrutiny and can find themselves blacklisted. A prominent example is the Tri-Valley State University, which faced consequences due to visa fraud and a subsequent ICE raid that affected approximately 1555 students.

4.     Super low on-site study requirements

Some Day 1 CPT universities might tell their students that they don’t have to come to campus ever. All courses are conducted on Zoom. Students can fully focus on their internship. It sounds wonderful; however, it is in violation of USCIS regulations. Be extra cautious if you run into a school that does not have a physical campus and says they do not require you to be physically present on campus. Day 1 CPT or not, F1 is granted to full-time students. To keep your F1 valid, you need to fulfill all responsibilities of an F1 student, including attending on-site classes no less than 8 hours/semester, and an overall GPA of no less than 3.0, etc.  

If you are interested in learning more about the risk factors of enrolling in Day 1 CPT universities, read our comprehensive guide here: Day 1 CPT – Explore the Potential Risks

To protect themselves, students are advised to thoroughly research the schools they are considering. Checking the US Department of Education's website for accredited institutions is essential. It is noteworthy that the so-called “blacklisted universities” list circulating on the internet is essentially the same as the list of unaccredited schools available on Wikipedia. Staying informed about recognized accreditations is crucial in making informed decisions about pursuing higher education.

If you cannot be sure about the Day 1 CPT universities you choose, call our expert for an evaluation or let them provide you with a personalized Day 1 CPT program list.

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