ICE Created Fake School Leading to Visa Fraud Arrest

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Twenty-one brokers, recruiters, and employers were arrested on April 5, 2016 from across the United States, who allegedly conspired with more than a thousand foreign nationals to fraudulently maintain student and obtain foreign worker visas through a “pay-to-stay” New Jersey college. The arrests resulted from an extensive probe led by United States Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

University of Northern New Jersey, a purported for-profit college located in Cranford, New Jersey (UNNJ) was created in September 2013 by HSI federal agents. The UNNJ was not staffed with instructors or educators, had no curriculum, and conducted no actual classes or education activities. The UNNJ operated solely as a storefront location with small offices staffed by special agents posing as school administrators. Through the UNNJ, undercover HSI agents investigated criminal activities associated with ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), including, but not limited to, student visa fraud and the harboring of aliens for profit.

According to court documents, during the investigation, HSI special agents identified hundreds of foreign nationals, primarily from India and China, who previously entered the United States on F-1 non-immigrant student visas to attend other SEVP-authorized schools. Through various recruiting companies and business entities located in New Jersey, California, Illinois, New York, and Virginia, the defendants then enabled approximately 1,076 of these foreign individuals – all of whom were willing participants in the scheme – to fraudulently maintain their nonimmigrant status in the United States on the false pretense that they continued to participate in full courses of study at the UNNJ.

ICE alleged that bogus documents created the illusion that prospective foreign workers would be working at the school in some IT capacity or project. The defendants then used these fictitious documents fraudulently to obtain labor certifications issued by the United States Secretary of Labor and then ultimately to petition the United States government to obtain H1-B visas for nonimmigrants. Starting from April 5, 2016, HSI Newark is coordinating with the ICE Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) and the SEVP to terminate the nonimmigrant student status for the 1,076 foreign nationals associated with UNNJ, and if applicable, administratively arrest and place them into removal proceedings. This case again put an alert to foreign nationals who are seeking student visa to enter and stay in United States that they must fully comply with the United States immigration law.

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