'Pay to Stay' visa racket busted in USA, 8 Telugu people arrested

Hugh Fox
February 3, 2019

This has been done to restrict the movement of the students, while federal agents probe their immigration status, sources said. Hotline numbers are-202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590.

At first glance, it seemed real, the University of Farmington boasted that its "innovative curriculum combines traditional instruction and distance learning with full-time professional experiences".

The MEA said, Government of India and the Indian Embassy and Consulates in the United States attach the highest priority to the welfare of the detained students and will continue to work with the U.S authorities and other stakeholders to address the issue.

While efforts are on by the Indian missions and consulates in the United States to get in touch with the detained students, the government has also mobilised its widespread diaspora community and other Indian associations there to garner more details on these students from detention centres.

Documents filed in court by federal prosecutors said as many as 600 students were enrolled at the fake institution, University of Farmington, set up by immigration officials for the sting operation to catch student visa fraud.

U.S. prosecutors announced Thursday the arrest of eight men of Indian descent for using the fake university, University of Farmington, to run a "pay-to-stay" for foreigners stay on a student visa and work.

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He said that he had met India's Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla to ask for help for the students.

In a statement posted on its website Reddy & Neumann group of immigration attorney said that it has received multiple reports that the ICE raided multiple worksites containing CPT students authorised by the University of Farmington, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

It goes on to allege that each student knew the university's programmes were not approved by Homeland Security and that it was illegal.

"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".

"Each of our five Consulates in the country has identified a nodal officer who could be contacted for any issue in this situation".

The external affairs ministry statement said authorities were closely monitoring the situation and taking proactive measures.

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For those seeking legal help, guidance and assistance is being provided by the Mission and Consulates.

"All participants in the scheme knew that the school had no instructors or actual classes", it said.

Information made available on the website of this university in particular those related to admissions leaves a lot of questions. "We are ascertaining more details (through) our embassy in Washington and different consulates in the US.We have also mobilised the Indian community organisations in the US to extend all possible support to the Indian students who are affected by this incident".

The students had enrolled in a fake university, the University of Farmington, with the intent to obtain jobs under a student visa programme called CPT (Curricular Practical Training) that allows students to work in the USA, reports said.

They collectively profited in excess of a $250,000, the agency said.

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