"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". The arrests were made by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a series of late-night and pre-dawn raids.
Indian news reports say as many as 129 Indians were among those detained on January 30 by U.S. immigration authorities in connection with enrollment at a fake university.
"So far, about 30 Indian students had been contacted by our consular officers".
University of Farmington is the second fake institution of higher learning created by law enforcement to catch student immigration scams.
According to the Times of India report, the spokesperson of the Indian government said, "Our Mission and Posts are ready to render all assistance to Indian students in the USA to deal with the emerging situation".
About 130 foreign students, a lot of them Indians, were rounded up after enrolling at the University of Farmington, in what prosecutors claim was a case of "pay-to-stay" immigration fraud.
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It goes on to allege that each student knew the university's programmes were not approved by Homeland Security and that it was illegal.
The students had come to the USA on legitimte student visas, but did not fulfill the condition of attending universities for the required classes making their continued stay illegal, which would be compounded if they worked.
The ATA has also contacted lawyers to confirm that arrest warrants were issued to the 600 students.
The ministry has also established a 24/7 helpline in the Indian Embassy in Washington for assistance.
Some friends and families of the detained Indian students are using Twitter seeking help from the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Obama administration officials had also set up the other fake institution, the University of North Jersey, and ensnared over 1,000 students, a lot of them from India and China, in 2016. "100 students connected to the Farmington University have been arrested".
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The students enrolled at the fake university with the intent to obtain jobs under a student visa program called CPT (Curricular Practical Training) that allows students to work in the USA, said prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors claim the students were aware the university was not running a legitimate operation.
The American Telugu Association met with Indian Ambassador Harshvardhan Shringla, the Indian Consulate General of India, Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni in Atlanta, and briefed them about the developments.
Sushma Swaraj and her team at the Ministry of External Affairs have been giving top priority to the arrested students.
The federal prosecutor in Detroit, Matthew Schneider, said in a statement: "We are all aware that worldwide students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended global student visa program can also be exploited and abused". "Rather, their intent was to fraudulently maintain their student visa status and to obtain work authorization under the CPT program".
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