Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Visa Racket Busted in US: Several Foreigners, Including Indians, Face Deportation

Visa Racket Busted in US: Several Foreigners, Including Indians, Face Deportation

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

A post on the official Facebook page of the ATA said, "Beginning in 2015, the university was part of a federal law enforcement undercover operation created to identify recruiters and entities engaged in immigration fraud".

"Each of the foreign citizen who enrolled and made tuition payments to the university knew that they would not attend accrual classes, earn credits or make progress towards an actual degree in a particular field of study - a pay to stay scheme", the indictment said.

The arrests came to light after the friends and families of the arrested students contacted the American Telugu Association (ATA) who along with their legal team contacted Indian student associations across the country, guiding them on the further actions to take in the matter.

The US undercover agencies used a fake college - University of Farmington - which had no classes, staff or curriculum - to lay a trap for the fraud recruiters, who were apparently unaware that university was fake and used it to illegally get documents for foreign students, most of whom were Indians.

According to the American Telugu Association, eight Indian student recruiters have been charged in a United States federal court for participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 foreign nationals stay in the USA illegally, according to the indictments. "Those individuals will be placed in removal proceedings, and ICE will seek to maintain them in its custody pending the outcome of those proceedings", the ICE official told PTI. The Indian government has also conveyed to the U.S. authorities that a distinction should be made between those involved in recruiting or enrolling students and students who had been duped or defrauded in the process.

In late 20s or early 30s, those arrested by the ICE include Barath Kakireddy, Suresh Kandala, Phanideep Karnati, Prem Rampeesa, Santosh Sama, Avinash Thakkallapally, Aswanth Nune, and Naveen Prathipati.

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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.

The arrested students have been marked for deportation and will remain in ICE's custody until immigration courts decide their cases, USA officials said.

"Madam, this is regarding the fake university (university of Farmington Michigan) issue".

Court documents show that the recruiters were paid between $5,000 and $20,000 at meetings with Homeland Security Investigations agents involved in the university for recruiting the students. The federal agents had allegedly tied the tracking devices to restrict the movement of the students and probe their immigration status, stated sources. Indians went solo in the Farmington scam, and it still didn't work.

As of possible arrests and deportations emerged, panic spread through Indian student communities in the United States.

It also urged students to be wary of fake agents who promise illegal ways to stay in the United States through admissions in unaccredited colleges and universities.

The indictment, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of MI, said the students knew the scheme was illegal.

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