In a nationwide sweep, federal authorities arrested 21 people in New York, New Jersey, Washington and Virginia. These people arrested were brokers, recruiters and employers who conspired with over 1,000 foreign nationals from around 25 countries to fraudulently obtain student and foreign worker visas through a “pay to stay” scheme. While, the US Government also have noted revealed the nationality of the arrested people, names released by authorities indicate that 10 of them are reportedly Indians or of Indian-origin.
According to the New Jersey College, Department of Justice, “Today’s arrests, which were made possible by the great undercover work of our law enforcement partners, stopped 21 brokers, recruiters and employers across multiple states who recklessly exploited our immigration system for financial gain”.
The defendants several of whom operated recruiting companies were arrested for their involvement in an alleged scheme to enroll the students in the University of Northern New Jersey, (UNNJ) a for-profit college in Cranford, New Jersey. “These defendants arranged to obtain visas by having individuals enroll in a fake university. Unfortunately for them, the fake university was run by undercover agents of the Department of Homeland Security,” the US Attorney for New Jersey informed. The Homeland Security sting investigation was carried out to unearth the unauthorized networks and educational institutions that are “nothing more than sham visa mills”, Fisherman said, adding that these educational institutions have no curriculum, no classes, no instructors and no real students. Attorney Paul J Fishman further said ‘Pay to Stay’ schemes not only damage their perception of legitimate student and foreign worker visa programs but also pose a threat to the national security.
During the investigation the special agents identified hundreds of foreign nationals, who previously entered the US on F-1 non-immigrant student visas to attend accredited schools. It is also learnt that a large number of students who received necessary visa and permits to work in the US as a result of the sting operation for which they reportedly paid huge sums of money are from India. Officials, however, did not provide the number of Indian students who were trapped by this year-long sting operation done by immigration and law enforcement authorities.