SEND TIPS(619) 578-0393
Local Immigration Attorney Ginger Jacobs says she was outraged when she saw NBC 7's report on Aristotle University and its foreign students.
“What really touched me was the students saying that we are actually here to learn and were hungry for this knowledge,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs wants to know how Aristotle University was certified by the Department of Homeland Security to issue student visas.
Aristotle University dean and co-founder Xanthi Gionis said, “Aristotle University has been a Homeland Security SEVIS approved school to issue the F1 student visas to international students wishing to pursue their masters of public health since 2008."
However, Jacobs doesn’t think it’s all that simple.
“Its’ extremely hard to get certification it's a stringent process, there's enormous amount of paperwork required so I was very surprised that this school had obtained that certification,” said Jacobs.
Students said Gionis threatens to take away their visas and have them deported if they are late on tuition payments.
In Friday’s news conference, Gionis said that she has "no hesitation whatsoever in terminating a student for their failure to attend classes and/or their failure to pay tuition."
“It‘s unlikely they would actually be deported,” Jacobs countered.
All of the students attended Aristotle University to get their masters in public health.
Irene Niuke, 26, from Cameroon wants to help diabetic patients.
Agenta Shayo, 56, from Tanzania specializes in working with young children and their mothers. .
And Albert Anarwat, 24, from Ghana wants to change health policies in his home country.
The students and their friend, Lisa Robinson, met with Jacobs to address their immigration concerns.
“I don’t want anyone to feel like this was their fault,” Jacobs told the students.
“I tell myself, ‘How can the government issue me an ID for which is not a school?’” said Niuke.
The situation is complicated.
Jacobs says the students have two options: transfer to another university or voluntarily go back to their home countries.
The students say they would love to transfer schools, but they have no more money.
They have already paid thousands of dollars to Aristotle University.
“I don't see any bright for future for this thing, so I am asking the government, the government to help us,” said Shayo.
The students would like to work in order to make money, but their F-1 visas have limitations. If the students choose this route, Jacobs says the work has to relate to their major and the school has to authorize it.