“Entering an engineering college was a big accomplishment two decades ago but the spurt in numbers brought down standards.

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Several students from Hyderabad were sweating over their shattered American dream at a time the city was celebrating the visit of its prodigal son and the most prominent Telugu techie in the US, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Unlike Nadella — who was at his hometown on Monday — and his compatriots in the 1980s, these students were barred from entering the US. “I entered the airport at seven for a flight at 10pm. No reason was given,” says an anguished Praveen Chaithanya who has a student visa issued by the US consulate.

email, social media scrutiny and thorough questioning to detect such methods,” says Kiran Kalluri, a senior IT professional working with a global IT giant.

Another IT professional working in Kansas, Vinil Nuggu, pointed to a rule that permits students to work in the US for more than two years after completing their studies.

Some work hard and gain scholarships in prestigious US universities but there are others who cut corners to join institutions that claim no enviable academic reputation and lower the bar for entry. “There are over 4,000 institutes in the 50 states offering seats to international students.

And yes, some of these universities could be running with income-generation as priority,” says GV Madhav, who runs usstudent.in, an education consultancy at Ameerpet in Hyderabad.

Agents say about a dozen students are deported every year when their false documents or intention to work are detected.

In some cases, US officials become suspicious because students become tense and fumble for an answer when they are questioned.

NPU and Silicon Valley officials deny the reports, rumours that their institutes were blacklisted for fraud.

“We have learned that a small percentage of international students are being sent back to India but only those that fail their immigration interviews, for example, by communicating that they are coming to the US to work illegally or are unable to show sufficient identification or financial support.

At every engineering college in and around Hyderabad as well as cities such as Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Warangal, almost every student aspires to go for higher studies in the US and land a handsome job in a multinational tech firm.