Federal prosecutors charged 21 brokers with felony charges of
conspiracy to commit visa fraud, making a false statement, and
conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit and other offenses.
The brokers are accused of marketing their services to more than
1,000 foreign nationals primarily from China and India who entered
the United States on legitimate student visas and wanted to remain
after completing their studies, prosecutors said.
Foreigners who used the services will likely not be prosecuted, but
will have their visas revoked, Fishman told reporters.
Federal investigators set up the fake University of Northern New
Jersey in 2013, complete with a website, Facebook page and
storefront office in Cranford, New Jersey, staffed by undercover
agents who posed as school administrators.
The goal of the multi-year investigation, officials said, was to
lure criminals who defraud the country's Student and Exchange
Visitor Program, which monitors schools that verify student visas
and non-immigrant students.
In the United States, F-1 student visas allow foreign students to
enter or remain in the country as they study.
"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," Fishman said in a statement.
The 21 people accused in the "pay to stay" scheme were said to have
helped enroll people in exchange for thousands of dollars in
kickbacks. They also created hundreds of false student records,
including transcripts, purchased by the foreign nationals, officials
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In other instances, the accused used the bogus university to attempt
to obtain work authorization and work visas for hundreds of their
clients in return for fees, authorities charged.
Others, they said, devised phony information technology student
projects to create false contracts, employment verification letters
and other documents for purported foreign workers and then paid the
undercover agents thousands of dollars to place the university's
letterhead on the documents and sign them in order to obtain federal
certifications for H1-B work visas.
The accused brokers were scheduled to appear in federal courts in
Newark, New Jersey and Seattle, Washington on Tuesday. If found
guilty, they could face multiple years in prison on the charges.
(Reporting by Marcus E. Howard; editing by Scott Malone and Fiona
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