Hundreds of students from India face deportation or criminal charges after the arrest Wednesday of eight men of Indian origin who had enrolled them at a fake university run by undercover USA agents in a sting operation to snare racketeers who misuse the student visa to help unqualified foreigners stay and work.
The University of Farmington, advertised as based in MI state, was run by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security to expose "pay-to-stay" immigration fraud.
Termed "pay-to-stay" scheme, the prosecutors have alleged that students knowingly enrolled themselves in the fake university to maintain their student visa status to remain in the US. But attorneys who have spoken with students or with family and friends of those arrested are pushing back against the government's claims.
A number of students enrolled in this fake institution, University of Farmington in MI state, were also taken into custody by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an early morning swoop - "5:00 am and thereabouts", said someone who was told of it by witnesses - all over the country. "Of the 130, 129 were Indian nationals", Khaalid H Walls, an ICE spokesperson, told PTI. The Association said on its Facebook page that it was trying to help affected students and is meeting Indian consular officials in the United States about the case.
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The recruiters were identified as Bharath Kakireddy (29) from Lake Mary, Florida; Aswanth Nune (26) from Atlanta; Suresh Reddy Kandala (31) from Culpeper, Virginia; Phanideep Karnati (35) from Louisville, Kentucky; Prem Kumar Rampeesa (26) from Charlotte, North Carolina; Santosh Reddy Sama (28) from Fremont, California; Avinash Thakkallapally (28) from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Naveen Prathipati (29) from Dallas.
Attorneys have dismissed claims by USA prosecutors that the students were aware the University of Farmington was running an illegitimate operation, saying they legally entered the country with student visas and transferred to the varsity to work.
The ATA has also contacted lawyers to confirm that arrest warrants were issued to the 600 students.
"As part of this investigation, numerous foreign nationals face administrative immigration violations", said the official.
The ICE agents made the arrests on Wednesday, the same day federal indictments were unsealed that charged eight people, all of whom are either Indians or Indo-Americans, in a visa fraud scheme. Upon their arrival in the USA, they transferred to the University of Farmington, which offered no academic or vocational programs of any kind. The federal agents had allegedly tied the tracking devices to restrict the movement of the students and probe their immigration status, stated sources.
He said what the University of Farmington was offering - allowing students to work while enrolled - is not unusual.
According to the to the indictments, from February 2017 to January 2019, a group of foreign citizens, conspired with each other and others to fraudulently facilitate hundreds of foreign nationals in illegally remaining and working in the USA by actively recruiting them to enroll into a metro Detroit private university Framington University. The Indian authorities also demanded the removal of the radio tags.
The U.S. government says the Dept. of Homeland Security created a fake university at 30500 Northwestern Hwy.in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
The external affairs ministry statement said authorities were closely monitoring the situation and taking proactive measures.