Hyderabad: In a major crackdown against violation of immigration norms, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested eight student recruiters, all of them from the two Telugu states. The investigators posed as owners and employees of the University of Farmington, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan. It had no staff, instructors, curriculum or classes but was utilised by undercover HSI agents to identify people involved in immigration fraud.
The university was being used by foreign citizens under a “pay to stay” scheme which allowed them to stay in the US as foreign citizens under the garb of being enrolled as full-time students for an approved educational programme. The trap was that any foreign student 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. Rather, their intent was to fraudulently maintain their student visa status and to obtain work authorisation. Each student knew that the university programme was not approved by the US Department of Homeland Security, and was thus illegal.
The eight Indians who were arrested for being recruiters profited from this “pay to stay” scheme.
In exchange for cash, bribe, scholarship and tuition, the arrested Indians enlisted hundreds of foreign citizens to enrol at the university.
They conspired with foreign citizens to fraudulently maintain their non-immigrant status as students and helped them unlawfully stay and obtain employment authorisation in the US. “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,” said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in Detroit. Following a nation-wide sweep, over 600 “students” now face possible deportation following the crackdown at the fake university.