Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) announced on April 5, 2016, that the “University of Northern New Jersey” (“UNNJ”) had been a sting operation for the past 2½ years. The Department of Homeland Security setup the University of Northern New Jersey to help catch those who were providing forged work authorization forms to hundreds of students. Federal agents gave the university a plausible website, a real address, and even had the university accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
Overall, there were a total of 21 people, mainly brokers, recruiters, and employers, that were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and alien harboring. While the sting operation was considered a “success” there are now over 1000 students whose immigration status remains in limbo. ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”) has already terminated the student records of nonimmigrant students who were enrolled at UNNJ. There were also approximately 60 former UNNJ students who have transferred out that have had their records terminated as well.
Many students of the now-defunct university feel they were attending school in good faith and were swindled as much as anyone. Students report meeting with university “officials”, receiving class merchandise, and were mailed letters stating that they can work in lieu of attending classes. Some of these students who purchased fake papers ended up working at Facebook and even the U.S. Military. Terminated students are encouraged to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for reinstatement of their visas. However, if they decide not to apply or if their reinstatement is denied, they may be required to leave the U.S. immediately.
The New Jersey Immigration Attorneys at Thomas & Krail, LLC warn foreign nationals to be wary of “pay to stay” schemes. Not only do these schemes damage the perception of legitimate student and foreign worker visa programs, they also pose a threat to national security. If you need help with your immigration case, contact the New Jersey Immigration Attorneys at Thomas & Krail Lawyers by calling (732) 333-0477 today.