WASHINGTON: The Indian embassy in the US has opened a 24/7 hotline to assist 129 Indian students by the American authorities in the ”
“university visa scam, officers said said
As many as 129 Indians are among 130 foreign students arrested for enroling at a fake university
The University in Detroit’s Farmington Hills was part of an undercover operation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designed to expose immigration fraud, according to federal prosecutors who charged charges in the case.
The two numbers – 202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590 – will be manned by senior embassy officers round the clock, officials said on Friday.
The arrested students, their friends and family members
The Indian Embassy has appointed a nodal officer to handle and coordinate all the issues related to helping the Indian students affected by the busting of the “pay-and-stay” racket run by a group of Indians that has some 600 students under trouble.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE, until Thursday, had been arrested in 130 students from the fake Farmington University in Greater Detroit area.
The ICE officials said 129 of them are Indian nationals. The fake university was opened by Homeland Security Investigations to trap those involved in illegal student visa racket. It has now been closed.
The arrest of such a large number of students has created panic among the Indian students.
Federal investigators say, the students who took admission in the university knew that the university program was illegal.
Officials said all of them face deportation, besides being put under detention. A number of students had been subjected to some kind of house arrest, with their device, that prohibits them moving into a designated area in their neighborhood.
As part of its investigations, early this week, the ICE arrested eight recruiters on criminal charges. From their names it appears that all of them are either Indian nationals or Indian-Americans
“These suspects may have aided hundreds of foreign nationals to stay in the United States illegally by helping them as students, which they most certainly did not have. HSI remains vigilant to ensure the integrity of US immigration laws and will continue to investigate this and other transnational crimes, “said Special Agent Charge Francis.
According to the ICE, in 2017, as many as 249,763 Indian students were enrolled in various American universities
Students from China topped the list with 481,106 in 2017.
This is probably the first time that such a large number of Indian students have been arrested in one go.
The number is expected to increase further, as ICE officials continue with their nationwide crackdown on Indian students enrolled in this fake university while working at different places.
“Embassy of India, Washington and all five consulates in the US working closely together to help Indian students detained in the U.S.,” The Indian Embassy said Friday.
Consular Officers from Indian Consulate in Houston met the arrested Indian students at Prairieland Detention Center, Alvarado, Texas.
This intervention by officials from the Indian Embassy and its Consulates have helped in release of some of the arrested students.
Some friends and families of the detained Indian students are using twitter seeking help from the Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
“Madam, This is about fake university (
Michigan) issue. My husband has taken custody today morning and I do not have any update on his status till now. Could you please help me on this, “one Madhuri wrote on twitter to Swaraj
Acting promptly, the Indian embassy sought his details. Her husband was a student at the fake university.
“Hi, I have mailed to Indian embassy and they have told that they are trying to meet my husband through consulate. After that I did not get any update from them,” said on Twitter.
In New Delhi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We are aware about this incident. We are looking for more details (through) in our Embassy in Washington and various consulates in the US … We have also mobilised the Indian community organisations in the US to extend all possible support to the students who have been affected by this incident “.
The ICE said foreign students are granted what are called “F” and “M” visas to study in the US and must maintain their legal status by enrolling in a student and exchange visitor program by certified a university. The ICE said since the Farmington University did not offer courses, the students were using the program as a way to work. PTI LKJ