The Indian embassy in the United States on Friday set up a 24/7 hotline to help the 129 Indian students arrested by immigration officials in a “pay-and-stay” scam, PTI reported. Undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security had set up a fake university to crack down on the scam.
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.
An unidentified official said the hotline numbers were 202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590 and listed firstname.lastname@example.org as the email address. The embassy, the official said, has appointed a nodal officer to supervise the assistance meted out to the families of the students.
“Embassy of India, Washington and all five Consulates in the US [are] working closely together to help Indian students detained in the US,” the Indian embassy said on Friday.
On Thursday, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had arrested 130 students, 129 of whom are Indians. US authorities said they plan on arresting more accused in the case.
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India has mobilised Indian community organisations to help the students. “We are ascertaining more details [through] our embassy in Washington and different consulates in the US,” Kumar said. “We have also mobilised the Indian community organisations in the US to extend all possible support to the Indian students who are affected by this incident.”