According to reports in the local media and an indictment filed by federal authorities and unsealed in Detroit on Wednesday, "eight people were arrested and indicted in an immigration fraud case for conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harboring aliens for profit". The two numbers 202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590 would be manned by senior embassy officials round the clock, officials said.
In a surprising case of Indian students getting arrested in U.S. under the alleged 'immigration scam, ' the External Affairs Ministry under Sushma Swaraj has said that 'it's their top priority to get the students back to India under any circumstances'.
The federal prosecutor in Detroit, Matthew Schneider, said in a statement: "We are all aware that global students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended worldwide student visa program can also be exploited and abused".
The US Department of Homeland Security had also set up a fake university in Farmington, Michigan, to attract foreign students who were in the area without proper authorisation.
USA prosecutors announced Thursday the arrest of eight men of Indian descent for using the fake university, University of Farmington, to run a "pay-to-stay" for foreigners stay on a student visa and work.
The Indian government said the students could have been tricked into enrolling.
The spokesperson for the US Embassy here said it has received a demarche.
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Also, they will be exempted from additional deductions of up to Rs 2 lakh on interest on homes loans, education loans, etc. Income from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh was taxed at 20 per cent and above Rs 10 lakh was at 30 per cent.
"A demarche was made to the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs".
Speaking to WION, Surendra Adhana, Deputy Consul General, Indian Consulate Houston said, "Each consulate in the U.S. is getting consular access to students detained in their jurisdiction".
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Saturday that it has been in contact with United States officials and has expressed concern for the detained students.
Members of the ATA met the Indian Ambassador Harshvardhan Shingla and the Consul General in Atlanta Swati Vijay Kulkarni and briefed them on the ongoing issues and remediation efforts, the post added.
For those seeking legal help, guidance and assistance is being provided by the Mission and Consulates. The ministry said a 24/7 helpline has been established in the Indian Embassy in Washington for assistance/queries related to the detention of Indian students. "They promised that they were working closely with the concerned authorities and will resolve the issue in a fast and amicable manner", said TANA secretary Anjaiah Chowdary Lavu.
"Each of the foreign citizen who enrolled and made tuition payments to the university knew that they would not attend accrual classes, earn credits or make progress towards an actual degree in a particular field of study - a pay to stay scheme", the indictment said.
"We are all aware that global students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended worldwide student visa programme can also be exploited and abused", stated US Attorney Matthew Schneider.
The indictment, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of MI, said the students knew the scheme was illegal.