Washington, DC: Over 300 Indian students, reported to have come to the United States as part of a fake student visa scheme, are now expecting deportation. As per reports, these students were unaware of the nature of the visa, and came to the US as part of the fake visa scheme.
Mostly Indian and Chinese students are among over 1,000 people facing deportation from sting that saw 21 suspects being arrested on Tuesday, April 5th, on felony charges that include conspiracy to commit visa fraud; they could face multiple years in prison. “Foreigners who used the services will likely not be prosecuted, but will have their visas revoked,” New Jersey US Attorney Paul Fishman told reporters on April 5.
It is learnt that a large number of students who received necessary visa and permits to work in the US as a result of the sting operation for which they reportedly paid huge sums of money are from India. These people arrested for their involvement in an alleged scheme to enroll foreign nationals as students in the University of Northern New Jersey, a purported for-profit college located in Cranford, New Jersey (UNNJ).
Meanwhile, reports state, 10 Indian-Americans are among 21 people arrested as part of a sting operation in which a fake university was created by US authorities to expose a visa scam that allowed more than 1,000 foreigners to maintain student and work visas. In the US, F-1 student visas allow foreign students to enter or remain in the country as they study.
The arrested people were brokers, recruiters and employers who unlawfully and fraudulently obtained or attempted to obtain student visas and foreign worker visas for approximately 1,000 foreign nationals from 26 countries. A sting operation conducted by law enforcement agencies has exposed the visa scam. “The 306 individuals from India who were purported students at the University of Northern New Jersey have been identified, located and placed in the immigration process for removal in accordance to proper due process,” Alvin Phillips, spokesman USICE Homeland Security Investigations told the media.
The 10 Indians arrested included Tajesh Kodalim, 44; Jyoti Patel, 34; Sanjeev Sukhija,35; Harpreet Sachdeva, 26; Shahjadi M. Parvin aka Sarah Patel, 54; Narendra Singh Plaha, 44 and Govardhan Dyavarashetty aka Vardhan Shetty, 35, all from New Jersey, as well as Avinash Shankar, 35, from Illinois; Karthik Nimmala, 32, from Georgia and Syed Qasim Abbas aka Qasim Reza aka Nayyer, 41, from New York.
The arrested includes brokers, recruiters and employers, who have been charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The middlemen under arrest paid the undercover agents running the school thousands of dollars to produce paperwork that made it look as if the foreigners were enrolled at UNNJ, federal prosecutors said. This enabled the “students” to maintain their visa status without having to go to class.
The charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and making a false statement each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit and H1-B Visa fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.
The people arrested were brokers who recruited foreign students mainly from China and India to the university that they knew would not have real classes. The brokers, working with investigators posing as university officials then charged the students in what was described as ‘Pay to Stay’ scheme that allowed them to maintain their student visas and stay in the country.
The sting operation was a way to understand, according to the prosecutor’s office, the extent of the criminal network behind visa fraud, including how students are recruited, how fake universities work and what happens after the students are enrolled.
“While the United States fully supports international education, we will vigorously investigate those who seek to exploit the U.S. immigration system,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldana. “As a result of this operation, HSI special agents have successfully identified and closed a gap in the student visa system and have arrested 21 individuals alleged to be amongst the system’s most egregious violators.”
As per the official sources, the Indian Embassy is in constant contact with the US government for seeking fair decision for the Indian students. The embassy has also appealed the US officials not to arrest and deport the Indian students.