WASHINGTON: Hundreds of Indian students , mostly from Andhra Pradesh , face the prospect of deportation from the US after authorities raided and shut down a university in the Silicon Valley on charges of a massive immigration fraud .
The Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, a major suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, has been charged by federal investigating authorities with being part of an effort to defraud, misuse visa permits and indulge in money laundering and other crimes.
According to a federal complaint filed in a California court, the University, which was raided and shut down last week, helped foreign nationals illegally acquire immigration status.
The university is said to have 1,555 students. As many as 95 per cent of these students are Indian nationals, the complaint said.
Investigations by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) found that while students were admitted to various residential and online courses of the university and on paper lived in California, in reality they "illegally" worked in various parts of the country as far as Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
ICE has called it as a "sham university." The ICE investigations found that more than half of these students were reported to be residing in a single apartment located in Sunnyvale California.
During the course of the investigation ICE found that the university gave the residential address of its students in order to conceal that they did not live in California, said the court papers.
For a student to maintain an active immigration status, they must show proof that they are making reasonable process towards completing coursework and physically attend classes.
Federal investigating authorities are now sweeping out on each of those students, who paid lakhs for obtaining students visa and also students work permit.
Several of them have been interrogated, creating a panic reaction among the Indian student community.
Many of the students from Andhra Pradesh, who were planning to join the university for the new semester, have cancelled their US travel plans.
Classes were scheduled to start on January 10 after the winter break.
It is understood that many of these students are planning to leave the country as soon as possible as they are being interrogated.
There are unconfirmed reports of some of the students being detained and deportation process has been started against them.
Once the university has been shut down, the students who come on F-1 visa, lose their status within a stipulated time. These students have been making desperate calls to Indian- American immigration attorneys.
"We have received verification that ICE has detained some of the students and placed them in removal proceedings," Murthy Law Firm, a popular immigration attorney firm among Indian-Americans, said in a posting on its website.