Immigration scam: Long haul for detained Indians as US puts its foot down

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Feb 01, 2019, 11:31 PM IST

The company was one of eight that were hit in the latest round of sanctions Photograph:(Reuters)

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Eight Indians were arrested after the US Department of Homeland security did an operation by setting up a fake university in Farmington Hills, Michigan state of US.

It is expected to be a long haul for the eight Indians who were involved in the immigration scam in the United States by enrolling 129 other Indians in a fake university in an attempt to exploit the US student visa system. These individuals have now been placed in "removal proceedings" and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has told WION that it will "seek to maintain them in its custody pending the outcome of those proceedings." 

If convicted, the eight accused will face a maximum penalty of five years in a US federal prison.

The individuals who were arrested in the immigration scam are Barath Kakireddy, Suresh Kandala, Phanideep Karnati, Prem Rampeesa, Santosh Sama, Avinash Thakkallapally, Aswanth Nune and Naveen Prathipati.

It also looks difficult for the 129 Indians who enrolled themselves in the fake university and have been arrested. WION has accessed the court documents in which it has been mentioned 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 toward an actual degree in a particular field of study – a “pay to stay” scheme", clearly suggesting they are also considered culpable by US authorities.

It further added, "each student knew that the University’s program was not approved by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was illegal and that discretion should be used when discussing the program with others."

US Documents

 All of them were arrested after the US Department of Homeland security did an operation by setting up a fake university in Farmington Hills, Michigan state of US.

This comes even as India has "highlighted" to the US government "that a distinction should be made between those involved in recruiting or enrolling students and students who have been duped or defrauded in the process."

The Ministry of external affairs in a press release said that it is "according the highest priority to the situation" arising out of the detention of Indian students in the United States and has placed a formal request for consular access for the students. 

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) further said, "We are monitoring the situation closely and have impressed upon the US Government the need to address the situation at the earliest."

The Indian mission is in touch with US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security and has requested for a list of the detained students and other details such as place of detention and Identity.

Indian mission, according to MEA, is rendering "all assistance to Indian students in the US to deal with the emerging situation" and has also involved Indian community organizations in reaching out to the students.