We talk a lot on this blog about fake universities getting shut down by the government for selling worthless degrees. This time, the Feds were actually the ones running the fraud - but with good reason.
The “University of Northern New Jersey,” or UNNJ, did not have a single professor on staff. There was no curriculum to speak of, which means classes were never held. But, they had plenty of “administrators” waiting for brokers, recruiters and even employers to come to them to enroll foreign nationals so they could stay in the country on student visas.
Sarah R. Saldaña, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said, “While the United States fully supports international education, we will vigorously investigate those who seek to exploit the U.S. immigration system.” And they found plenty of people trying to exploit the system. Twenty-one were arrested by federal agents for allegedly conspiring to keep more than 1,000 “students” in the country.
According to ICE, these foreign nationals, mainly from China and India, entered the country legally on F-1 non-immigrant student visas to attend REAL universities. But now, they needed to maintain their status to stay and work. In order to do that, recruiting companies contacted UNNJ because it claimed to be a school that was authorized to issue a document known as a “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status- for Academic and Language Students.” Basically, this form tells the government that the foreign national has been accepted as a full-time student and is going to remain in the country to study.
“‘Pay to Stay’ schemes not only damage our perception of legitimate student and foreign worker visa programs, they also pose a very real threat to national security,” said New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. The government’s fake university has now identified and shut down several operations that were abusing the program. The 21 defendants face several charges including conspiracy to commit visa fraud and conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit.
The foreign “students” have not been arrested, but things are not going to be easy for them. Their visas will be terminated and they will most likely have to leave the country.