Pay To Stay Scam: Hundreds Of Indians Face Deportation As Authorities Bust US Visa Racket
February 1st, 2019 / 4:56 PM
Following authorities busting a “pay to stay” visa racket, many are facing deportation from the US, including some people from India. Eight people have been arrested for fraudulently allowing at least 600 immigrants to remain in the country illegally.
As many as eight foreigners were arrested by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, all of whom are Indian Nationals or Indian Americans. These people helped foreign nationals by getting them enrolled into a fake university in Farmington Hills in Metro Detroit so that they could continue to stay in the country illegally.
Special agents of the Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) operated the university as a part of an undercover operation without the conspirators’ knowledge, from a building in the Detroit area. They found that whatever information was available on the university’s website, specifically those related to admissions raised a lot of questions, reported The Economic Times. Several foreign students of the fake university were then detained by the ICE, and the deportation process began. A majority of those who have been arrested and detained happens to be Indian nationals.
“Special agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested eight on criminal charges as part of an investigation into potential abuses of the US student visa system,” an ICE official said.
Those arrested include Barath Kakireddy, Suresh Kandala, Phanideep Karnati, Prem Rampeesa, Santosh Sama, Avinash Thakkallapally, Aswanth Nune, and Naveen Prathipati, all of them in their late 20s or early 30s. While two of them were arrested in Virginia and Florida, six others were arrested in the Detroit area.
“As part of this investigation, numerous foreign nationals face administrative immigration violations. 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 said.
According to an indictment which was unsealed in a local court, a group of foreign citizens from February 2017 to January 2019, conspired with each other to carry out the operation.
The fake university has no teachers, no staff and no classes were conducted, but was only part of a federal law enforcement operation that was taking place undercover, so that recruiters and entities engaged in immigration could be identified.
According to federal prosecutors, all the illegal documents that were seized were based entirely on false statements and false claims as these foreign students had no intention of attending school and obviously were not bona fide students.
It was noted by ICE that all participants in the scheme were aware that the school had no real classes and wanted to hide their customers from immigration authorities in order to earn money and as a result of the scheme, they profited in excess of a quarter of a million dollars. US Attorney Matthew Schneider said although foreign students can be an asset, the well-intended international student visa programme can also be possible to exploit. The indictment said that grossly exploiting US immigration laws, all the foreign students who enrolled and made payment for tuitions knew well that they did not want to attend classes or make any progress in academic life, but rather intended to fraudulently obtain work authorisation under the CPT (Curricular Practical Training) programme.
This incident is the second of its kinds after 21 people were arrested by the ICE in 2016 in connection with similar offences for a fake University of Northern New Jersey. To unearth this incident too, the Department of Homeland Security had used a fake university.
Social media chatter, mainly from platforms from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, indicated that ICE carried out raids in various US cities like Columbus Ohio; Houston in Texas, Atlanta in Georgia, St Louis in Missouri and New York and New Jersey.
In a statement by Reddy & Neumann group of an immigration attorney, it was said that multiple reports have come of multiple worksites being raided by ICE, which contained CPT students authorised by the University of Farmington, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
While students are supposed to be assets to a country, such exploitation and fraudulent operations reduce them to nothing more than liabilities. The Logical Indian urges authorities to take strict action against the accused.
Written by : Sumanti Sen
Edited by : Sromona Bhattacharyya