The Indian embassy in the United States has opened a hotline number, available 24/7, in order to assist the India students detained in a university visa scam, “pay-and-stay”, by the American authorities, Indian officials said.
Around 129 Indian students are among those 130 foreign students who have been detained in the US for enrolling at a fake university, who has been ordered to remain in the US.
According to TOI news reports, the department of homeland security has undertaken the university in Detroit’s Farmington Hills for an undercover operation in order to expose immigration fraud, the federal prosecutors said who announced charges in the case.
The two numbers – 202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590 – would be manned by the senior embassy officials. Students’ family member could contact the embassy.
After the undercover operation, the US’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested around 130 foreign students, including 129 Indians, for immigration violations.
The Indian embassy said on Friday: “Embassy of India, Washington and all five Consulates in the US working closely together to help Indian students detained in the US.”
An ICE spokesperson told PTI: “The ICE has administratively arrested 130 foreign nationals enrolled at the University of Farmington for civil immigration violations. Of the 130, 129 were Indian nationals. These individuals have been placed in removal proceedings, and ICE will seek to maintain them in its custody pending the outcome of those proceedings.”
At the ministry of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj and team has given “top priority” to the detained Indian students in the US.
For queries and assistance related to the detention of Indian students in the US, please contact our special 24/7 helpline. pic.twitter.com/iorYgZ5cxX
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 2, 2019
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We are aware of this incident. We are ascertaining more details (through) our embassy in Washington and different consulates in the US … We have also mobilized the Indian community organizations in the US to extend all possible support to the Indian students who are affected by this incident”.
The arrests took place across in St Louis, New Jersey, Houston, Michigan, California, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Atlanta. Students are alleged for immigration to the US legally on a student visa, but had been shifted to the University of Farmington to work, attorneys said.
Ravi Mannam, an immigration attorney in Atlanta, said the fake university “hooked these students by promising them credits for their previous master’s programmes”.
“These suspects aided hundreds of foreign nationals to remain in the United States illegally by helping to portray them as students, which they most certainly were not. 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.
The ICE has said foreign students were granted with so-called “F” and “M” visas to go abroad (US) to study and should maintain their all legal status by enrolling in institutions certifies by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.