Background: The graduate school in our university, which is a public university in the US, has a policy about international students and their original diplomas and transcripts, which may be written in a different language than English. It is clearly stated that all the new international graduate students should inform their previous universities outside the US to send their original diplomas and transcripts in a sealed envelope directly to the current university in the US. But, unfortunately, according to some problems between my origin country (which is the same as the origin country of my friend, cf. Problem section) and the US, that's not possible at all and it's an already known fact in all the US universities. As a result, people like me as an international student, just turn their original + translated diplomas and transcripts to the graduate school by themselves without sealed pocket. I did this exactly at the end of my first semester and the graduate school accepted it. I turned the original diplomas and transcripts as it is clearly stated in the graduate school email that if my diplomas and transcripts are not written in English, the original documents + translated ones should be turned at the end of first semester.

Problem: Recently, one of my friends (he is also an international student from my country), who is in the same program at the same university as me, did not turn his original documents + translated ones by himself to graduate school. He just copied all the documents by himself and bought an envelope from Walmart and put them together and just turned it to the university and surprisingly, our graduate school accepted it in its current form!

Question: Today, I am informed that I need to have my original documents for some other purposes related to US immigration services and I went to our graduate school to get them back because according to my friend's story it should not be a problem for graduate school to return the original documents to me and accept the copies. But, graduate school officer refused my request and when I gave an example about my friend that just turned the copy to them, they just stated his university may just send the copies and if that's the case we don't care! Their words clearly says that I was just a stupid guy that followed their written rule and turned my original documents to them! And now, they don't care and even said they may have discarded them! As a result, it seems they just believed that the $1 Walmart pocket came directly from my friend's university! I believe it's not fair because they applied the rules differently and it could seriously affect my future. So: Should I inform the graduate school about that fake pocket? I mean it seems that it's my last way to deal with graduate school but it really drives me crazy about their rules and how they think and how they deal with documents! In fact, my problem is without informing the graduate school about my friend's case I cannot convince the graduate school that their system does not work properly and they serve different people randomly without a unified approach.

Update: I talked to associate dean of graduate school today and it was a really nice meeting and he was really friendly and helpful. I believe I transferred my purpose to him successfully without mentioning my friend's name and he was promised to do some investigation and then hopefully he will return my original documents to me.

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    You seem to believe that if you inform the grad school about your friend's case, they will be more likely to return your original documents to you. That's not how it works, though, so your friend is not relevant to your real question - "How do I get my original documents back from my university's admissions office?" – ff524 Jan 15 at 19:46
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    I think there is some confusion about the word "originals" in the comments here because it is almost certainly referring to transcripts directly from the university rather than the first documents given at the time of graduation. Within the US the standard is that a student requests that University A send transcripts to University B, which they do either directly or they provide a sealed envelope for the student to mail themselves. These are freshly printed at the time of request. – Bryan Krause Jan 15 at 20:01
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    @AloneProgrammer Yes, so I think you misinterpreted the US university's meaning of "original" documents. For your sake, I'm worried they've been destroyed and that's why they won't give them back. Throwing your friend under the bus does you no good here. Have you informed your graduate school why you need the documents? Also, I know this is serious, but take a breath for a second and don't start by accusing your university of treating you like you are a stupid guy, if they don't have a document how do you expect them to give it to you? Best to be polite with people who you hope to help you. – Bryan Krause Jan 15 at 20:15
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    @AloneProgrammer I think you just haven't found the right person to talk to yet, I have a feeling there is a communication barrier here, there is absolutely no reason for the university to hold these documents. I still think there is a misunderstanding about what "original" means no matter how many times they say "original" I don't think they are gathering that this is literally the true original, again, because this is not how things work in the U.S. There isn't even a true original, my printed diploma I have from my universities in the US is worthless as documentation. – Bryan Krause Jan 15 at 21:41
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    @AloneProgrammer In the US context, "original documents" are not necessarily "unique original documents". For example, I can get five sets of "original diplomas and transcripts" from my university registrar. They are "original documents" because they are issued directly from the registrar, but they don't have to be the only set in existence! When they ask for "original documents", they mean "documents issued by your registrar and not altered", they don't mean "the only set of the documents". – ff524 Jan 15 at 23:03

I doubt that much, if anything, would be gained. You are describing a technical violation, not an ethical one, I think. You don't seem to claim that the other student forged anything, and that s/he interpreted a, perhaps unreasonable, requirement incorrectly and tried to compensate for it. It would be different if you were claiming the other student acted dishonestly with respect to grades or courses.

The problem seems to be with the university and rules that are hard to carry out faithfully. This is affecting you and you should deal with that directly, rather than involve the other student. You may, in fact, have to ask your original university for assistance in sending documents. But that is all between people other than your fellow student. Involving them won't help you and might hurt them unnecessarily.

I'd suggest that you seek guidance from the university as to how you can make immigration happy. They may be following other rules that are imposed by other agencies.

  • "You may, in fact, have to ask your original university for assistance in sending documents" that's not possible at all cause my original university is in Iran and those people are more crazy to deal with in my original university in comparison to my current university in the US! I don't remember but I believe my original university in Iran just took a legal statement from me that I would not request for any other original document never! (You can imagine their logic and how much they are rational!!!). – Alone Programmer Jan 15 at 19:31
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    Take that correspondence to your current university. Find an "ombudsman" or student services office and try to work with them. – Buffy Jan 15 at 19:43

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