New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday said that they had obtained consular access to the 117 out of the 129 students who had been administratively arrested as on 31 January in connection with their enrollment at the University

The MEA said that consular access to the remaining students, estimated at about a dozen, are continuing, including through the 24/7 helpline set up by the Embassy and outreach to the community. The arrested students, their friends, and family members can contact the embassy at cons3.washington@mea.gov.in.

Earlier today, the US State Department had issued a statement affirming that the students knowingly committed the crime.

The statement read, “All participants in this scheme knew that the University of Farmington had no instructors or classes (neither on-line nor in-person) and were aware they were committing a crime in an attempt to fraudulently remain in the United States.”

“The ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has administratively arrested 130 foreign nationals enrolled at the University of Farmington for civil immigration violations. Of the 130, 129 were Indian nationals,” Khaalid H Walls, an ICE spokesperson.

“These individuals have been placed in removal proceedings, and ICE will seek to maintain them in its custody pending the outcome of those proceedings,” he said. The arrests took place across the US, in New Jersey, Atlanta, Houston, Michigan, California, Louisiana, North Carolina and St Louis. The students had immigrated legally to the US on student visas and had transferred to the University of Farmington so they could work, said attorneys.

Meanwhile, the Indian embassy has appointed a nodal officer to handle and coordinate all issues related to helping Indian students affected by the bursting of the “pay-and-stay” racket run by a group of Indians that has put some 600 students under trouble.