Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

U.S. fake university: India protests after students arrested

U.S. fake university: India protests after students arrested

Three indictments, unsealed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of MI in Detroit, charged eight individuals of Indian origin with recruiting students (the Detroit Free Press had reported that number to be around 600) to keep their immigration status in the U.S. valid and provide them with work permits by abusing the F-1 student visa scheme and associated curricular practical training (CPT) opportunities.

On Saturday, the Indian ministry of external affairs (MEA) issued a "demarche" (diplomatic correspondence) to the U.S. embassy in Delhi, expressing concern over the arrests and demanding consular access to those detained.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Saturday that it has been in contact with USA officials and has expressed concern for the detained students.

The university was part of a federal law enforcement undercover operation created to identify recruiters and entities engaged in immigration. "By Monday we will have access to nearly all our students", Mr Shringla said.

Unbeknownst to the conspirators, the university was operated by special agents of the Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) as part of an undercover operation, from a small building in Detroit area. "We refer you to the Department of Homeland Security in the United States for information on their status", the spokesperson said.

129 Indians have been arrested by the United States authority on Friday after they enrolled themselves in a "fake" university in order to retain their student visa to stay in the US.

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The American Telugu Association, in a statement on its Facebook page, said the affected students and their friends alerted them about the arrests.

It may be recalled that eight recruiters from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (AP) are among those booked by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which carried out a sting operation.

One of them, the American Telugu Association has launched a webpage to help the students and organized a webinar with immigration lawyers to guide them "to be watchful with fake agents who promise illegal ways to stay in US with admissions in unaccredited colleges".

The Indian embassy has appointed a nodal officer to handle and coordinate all issues related to helping Indian students affected by the busting of the "pay-and-stay" racket run by a group of Indians that has put some 600 students under trouble. "Majority students who sought admission in University of Farmington belong to middle class families". The US authorities claimed that the students, who were enrolled by these 8 recruiters knew that they were committing fraud but still stayed in the US illegally.

The association, according to Detroit Free Press, confirmed that about 100 students had been arrested and others were facing arrest warrants. Aid from the Indian community has been mobilised to provide legal support. It said it was trying to help the affected students and had met Indian consular officials in the U.S. about the case.

"There are specific universities who have advanced degree programmes that primarily involved practical training from day one that allows them to enroll and the bulk of the time is spent working", Sofo said.

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