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DC Company Allegedly Threatened Foreign Teachers With Deportation

April 2, 2019

Teachers recruited from foreign countries to teach in the U.S. by a D.C.-based company were misled into paying high fees, didn’t receive the training and support they paid for and were threatened with deportation.

Bilingual Teacher Exchange, an organization that recruits experienced teachers who want to work in the U.S. through a State Department exchange program, allegedly misled teachers into paying high fees for visa sponsorship and threatened to deport them if they refused to sign new contracts, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a  lawsuit against Earl Francisco Lopez and his company.

“These hardworking educators came to the District to teach D.C. students,” Racine said in a statement. “Mr. Lopez and his companies defrauded them, provided little to no services, and instead trapped them in a cycle of debt, late fees, and threats of deportation. Now, we’re working to get them the relief they deserve.”

Since at least 2015, teachers believed they could only work for D.C. schools if they collaborated with the company, the lawsuit said. However, teachers offered positions could use any sponsor the State Department approves.

The company also told teachers it would assist with school placement, visa eligibility screening, travel assistance and professional development. Instead, Lopez’s company failed to offer new teachers any guidance, according to the lawsuit.

If the teachers, who often came from Colombia and were recruited to teach Spanish-language classes, didn’t make their monthly payments, the company allegedly said they would lose their visas even though it had no authority to terminate or cancel them.

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