At least 129 Indians have been arrested in the United States after they allegedly enrolled in a fake university set up by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security to reveal a “pay-to-stay” immigration fraud, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday. The arrests were made in the city of Detroit in Michigan and more arrests are expected, officials said.

A “pay-to-stay” scheme involves foreign nationals who purportedly enroll in fake institutions to falsely maintain their student visa status to allow them to continue to stay in the United States.

The accused have been placed in “removal proceedings” and marked for deportation. This means they will remain in the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, till immigration courts decide their cases.

“As of yesterday morning, ICE had administratively arrested 130 foreign nationals enrolled at the University of Farmington for civil immigration violations,” the agency’s spokesperson Carissa Cutrell told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Telugu organisations have initiated programmes to assist the arrested Indians, The News Minute reported. The American Telugu Association started a webinar titled “University of Farmington ICE Issue : Effect on F-1 CPT Employment”. The associaition has also set up a team to provide aid to the affected students.

“The American Telugu Association team communicated with Indian Ambassador to the US Harshvardhan Shingla, and the Indian consulates in Washington DC and Atlanta,” the association said.

The Andhra Pradesh Non-Resident Telugu Society, a state government initiative, said it would assist the affected students. The society’s president Ravikumar P Vemuru asked the students to contact the society’s 24-hour helpline at 08632340678 for information. “They will be fine because there is no clear-cut intention to defraud the US government,” Vemuru said.