Warning to Attorneys and Employers: Watch out for Degree Mill Degrees.


Employers and attorneys need to be aware that some of the candidates will show them “degrees” that are not going to be accepted by USCIS because they are from degree mills. It is best to stop the problems before they start and the employer has invested time and money in someone who will not qualify for a visa.

What is a degree mill? A recent New York Times edition ran an exposé on a prolific one based out of Pakistan. Axact, a well-known and highly respected company with over 2,000 employees was found to be selling fraudulent college degrees over the internet. The way it works is people buy degrees from universities that may or may not exist without going to school. Axact managed 370 fake university websites that can be referenced when individuals who buy these degrees went to use them in the real world.

Axact is one of many degree mills that sell fraudulent degrees that people can try to pass off as authentic education. While most people who patronize diploma mills know what they’re buying, some customers unknowingly buy services from fake college and university websites with purposefully misleading names like “Columbiana University” and “Barkley.” Even with this recent bust of Axact, estimates indicate there are thousands of these websites still up and running and selling fake diplomas to paying customers.

How can you protect yourself and your business against hiring employees with fake credentials?

Here are five tips for weeding out degrees bought from degrees earned:

1) Check for inconsistencies in the timeframe. Carefully look over when each degree what awarded. If a college degree was awarded before a high school diploma, you’re probably looking at false credentials. If the timeframe doesn’t check out, the degree probably won’t follow either.

2) Check to see if the school on their degree is a real school. If it doesn’t exist, neither does the value of their degree.

3) If the school checks out, dig a bit deeper to see if the degree checks out. If the school exists but the program of study for that specific degree doesn’t exist, credentials indicating completion of it are false. You can’t complete a program that doesn’t exist.

4) Talk to a credential evaluating agency to check for validity. These agencies understand international education and can spot authenticity across cultures and across borders.

Businesses that hire international employees are particularly at risk for falling victim to degree mill patrons. Before you start in on your H-1B petition process with a potential new hire, get their credentials evaluated by an agency. You will need to do this anyway for their petition, and in the evaluation process you can find out if their credential are authentic from the get-go before delving into the lengthy and costly process.

Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Sheila Danzig is the director of Career Consulting International at the www.TheDegreePeople.com, a foreign credential evaluation agency. They specialize in difficult cases and RFEs, Denials, NOIDs, 3 year degrees etc. and offer free review of all H1B, E2, I140 education at http://www.ccifree.com/?CodeILART/

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.