Fake University Sting: Embassy of India issues an advisory for Indian students

Following the  US authorities’ sting operation last month which led to the arrest of 129 Indians enrolled at a fake university run by undercover agents in Detroit, Michigan, the Indian consulate has issued an advisory warning Indian students in the US against ‘pay-to-stay’ immigration fraud.

To ensure that Indian students do not fall into such traps in the future, Embassy of India, Washington issued an advisory for Indian students. It mentioned that due diligence should be exercised while seeking admission to US Universities.

Students are advised to take into account several other factors, some of which are outlined below:

Does the University function have a campus or merely maintains a website and has administrative premises only? If not, such Universities are not to be regarded as a bonafide educational institution and admission into such Universities should be avoided.

Does the University have a faculty and regular instructors/educators? If not, admissions to such Universities should be avoided. It may be noted that such Universities typically employ only administrative staff and their websites have no information in respect of faculty.

Does the University have a proper curriculum, hold regular classes and actively implement academic or educational activity? If not, admissions to such Universities may be avoided. Students admitted to such Universities, even if in possession of regular student visa may be tried for violation of visa norms and subjected to detention and subsequent deportation from the US.

The university in Detroit's Farmington Hills was part of an undercover operation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designed to expose immigration fraud, according to federal prosecutors who announced charges in the case.

A screenshot of the University of Farmington website. Photo courtesy: FIH

According to US law enforcement, these Universities are run by undercover law enforcement agents who pose as owners and employees of the University. The sole objective of such operations is to identify recruiters and entities engaged in immigration fraud in the US.

The Indian students, many of whom claimed later that they were caught unawares, were subsequently detained by US law enforcement agencies and subjected to deportation proceedings.

They were accused of having violated the US immigration laws and of knowingly remaining enrolled in a “fake” University for the sole purpose of continuing their stay in the United States without the intention of pursuing any academic activity.