The U.S federal agencies that caught 10 Indians in a sting operation for allegedly defrauding the country’s immigration system are yet to move against the recipients of fraudulently obtained visas and other documents. Meanwhile, Indian diplomats are trying to avoid the repeat of an embarrassing spectacle five years ago when Indian students trapped in the Tri Valley University scam were radio tagged to monitor their movement.
Indian diplomatic sources said they have not received any response yet from the State Department or the Department of Homeland Security to India’s request that the ‘students’ who have been involved in the sting operation should not be arrested or deported.
“We have requested the U.S. to consider the possibility that the recipients of these visas or documents could themselves be victims of a fraud”, a source said. “As of today, these people have valid documents,” the source pointed out, adding that India is trying to persuade the U.S. authorities that they should be allowed to voluntarily leave the country within a reasonable time limit and without prejudice or be allowed to seek transfer to other universities.
The 10 Indians among the 21 arrested by the U.S. agencies so far were middlemen who facilitated the transactions between visa seekers and the fake ‘University of Northern New Jersey’ set up by undercover agents of the Department of Homeland Security. Prosecutors have not announced their likely move against the end beneficiaries and their identities have not been disclosed.
“We don’t know now who these people are”, the Indian official said.
Fresh documents released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey illustrate an elaborate racket to game the U.S. immigration system. In one instance, Indian national Tejesh Kodali (44), who runs the IT firm Promatrix Corporation in New Jersey, and Jyoti Patel (34), its business development manager, approached the ‘university’ seeking visas for people working for them.
The visa seekers were already in the U.S. on student visas that were about to expire. The deal that the two sought involved two types of visas. First, student visas that would allow the recipients Curriculum Practical Training or CPT, under the guise of which Promatrix would employ them. Second, H-1B visas through fake diplomas and transcripts provided by the fake university.
In one conversation that is now part of the court records, Mr. Kodail says: “Oh, yeah, we have plenty of clients, actually”. Ms. Patel, chips in: “So these people, they are talented, they are qualified, but just to retain them…now they are using the CPT status…but we need more and more”.
India’s contention is that if a fake U.S. university issues documents to a prospective student and the immigration department then issues him a visa, it reflects the loopholes in the U.S. system more than the criminality of the visa seeker. In this instance, the ‘university’ itself is fake, but in many cases, there are legally functioning universities that enable such operation. The counter to that argument is that in this case ‘students’ get into the university with the explicit understanding that they would not be attending classes.
Incidentally, the annual growth of Indian students in the U.S. in 2014 was the highest in recorded history, rising by 29.4 per cent compared with the previous year. There were 132,888 Indians studying in U.S. schools in 2014, compared to 102,673 in 2013. China has the largest student contingent in the U.S. – 304,040 in 2014, which was an increase of 10.8 per cent from the previous year.
Source : The Hindu