129 of 130 arrested in U.S. visa fraud scheme are Indians

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They have been placed in removal proceedings: ICE

Washington, 02 Feb: In the evolving case of the University of Farmington sting operation that The Hindu has been closely monitoring, 129 of the 130 arrested “students” are Indian nationals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in an email. One of them is Palestinian, Voice of America quoted official sources as saying.


“As of yesterday morning, ICE had 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,” the email from ICE said.


Three indictments, unsealed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan 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. The eight accused at the centre of the alleged scheme were arrested earlier this week.


The authorities alleged that each of the foreign citizens who enrolled and made “tuition” payments to the university knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits, or make academic progress towards an actual degree in a particular field of study — it was a “pay-to-stay” scheme.”


The Indian Embassy and consulates are in touch with the various U.S. government departments, including Homeland Security and ICE, and consular officers have met with some of the detainees,  the Indian Embassy told The Hindu on Friday afternoon.


(The Embassy has established a hotline in connection with this situation. The numbers are +1 202 322 1190 or +1 202 340 2590. Email: cons3.washington@mea.gov.in)


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