The US has promised to cooperate with India to resolve the issue of affected Indian students of a sham US university, but said it's hard to say what is possible pending a full probe.
The issue "remains under investigation", State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the status of the students affected by the closure of "sham" Tri-Valley University (TVU) in California, on charges of visa fraud.
Some 1,555 TVU students, 90% of them from India, mostly Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of deportation unless they can get admission in another institution to retain their student visa status.
"We do understand that there are students who have been caught up in this," Crowley said noting the issue has been discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, and also with the Indian embassy here and the US embassy in India.
The US "will work as cooperatively as we can with the Indian government as we move ahead here", he said. "But it's hard to know exactly what is possible because the matter is still under investigation."
"We have ongoing concerns both in this case and more broadly about instances of visa fraud," Crowley said. "And we need to continue to investigate how these things happen and try to do everything we can to prevent them from occurring in the future."
Asked about assurances of help given to the Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and visiting Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Crowley said: "I can promise you that we are going to work as cooperatively as we can, both with the government and also to help resolve these cases."
"India has made the point, and we understand it fully, that students caught up in this, the risk is that they'll lose a year of schooling and go through great inconvenience as this matter is being investigated," he said.
"We do understand that and we have pledged our cooperation. But we do recognise that there are strong indications of visa fraud, and we don't know who is involved, we don't know how they got involved, but this has to be investigated fully, and we will do that."
The US would continue to welcome Indian students to study, Crowley said, advising them to "avail themselves of all the available information on how to do this, and alert them to the potential for fraudulent institutions that are trying to do these kinds of things".
Noting that it was "a matter of great concern" to both India and the US, Crowley pledged "to keep Indian authorities fully informed, but we have to go through this investigation first".