iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Fifteen international students were arrested for fraudulently using the Optional Practical Training (OPT) given to students on an F-1 international visa. Among these 15, 11 students are apparently from India.
OPT enables nonimmigrant students to work in the United States in positions related to their field of study for up to one year, with an additional 24 months if the student participates in STEM optional practical training.
The arrest was part of “Operation OPTical Illusion”, an operation targeting nonimmigrant students who are fraudulently using the OPT program to remain in the United States.
The operation began in January early this year and it is expected to continue as long as it is required said the officials. During a press conference, ICE officers said that they would be targeting a few universities across the country as well.
According to the press note, students were arrested from around Boston, MA; the Washington, DC area; Houston, TX; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Newark, NJ; Nashville, TN; as well as Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, and they claimed to be employed by companies that don’t exist.
Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli stated through a press note, “Today’s announcement is just another example of the Trump Administration not only putting America first but making sure the laws of our immigration system are enforced.”
“Every instance of fraud is a job an American worker could have had, and with so many Americans looking for work this crime is even more unacceptable,” Cuccinelli said.
ICE Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director Tony Pham stated: “ICE has a system of checks in place to mitigate fraud and is committed to protecting national security by ensuring that students, visitors, and schools comply with U.S. immigration laws.” Pham said,
He added, “These latest arrests demonstrate that the agency is actively targeting individuals who try to exploit the student visa system.”
According to www.politico.com, there are about 220,000 international students who are under OPT programs. Among this, DHS said in the press conference, 1100 in question involve fraud, and the USCIS has sent nearly 700 letters to OPT recipients this week to alert them that their permits will be revoked.
DHS also mentioned that the fraud could be working in a position that doesn’t relate to a student’s field of study.