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The Great Student Visa Sting

April 11, 2016
Plain English Version

USA_visa_(2012)

There is a market for everything. That includes student and work visas. Sometimes getting or keeping one is hard. There is a market for visa fraud.

Visa fraud is not new. The government already has brought cases against people selling visas.

Homeland Security officials tried a new scheme. They set up a school. Its purpose was to help students qualify for visas. Its name was the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ). It had an address. It had a seal and a website. It said on the Internet that it was state-licensed. It said that Homeland Security certified it.

It did not have teachers, courses or students. The University of Northern New Jersey does not exist. It was a classic “sting” operation.

Brokers act as go-betweens for schools and companies and people who wanted visas. An official said, “Once word got out, brokers descended on the school. They were clamoring to enroll their clients.”

The school told them there were no classes. It sold the brokers the materials needed to get visas. The brokers then helped get visas for buyers. Some of the buyers were students whose visas had run out. Most of the students were from India and China. Most were already in the U.S.

The brokers were able to convert some of the visas into permits for work. Some of the buyers had expired H-1B work visas. Officials said some buyers were able to get jobs at Apple, Facebook, and Morgan Stanley. One buyer enlisted in the armed forces.

Twenty-one brokers were arrested for unlawfully buying and selling visas. Most of the brokers were naturalized citizens or legal permanent residents. They obtained visas for 1,076 people. Most of those visas will be revoked.

One broker charged said, “We have been doing this for years, no worries.”

The brokers were able to convert some of the visas into permits for work. Officials said that some got jobs at Apple, Facebook and Morgan Stanley. One person enlisted in the armed forces. One broker paid $6,000 for twenty H-1B work visas.

The business of getting visas by fraud is far reaching. An official said it is another stop on the “pay to stay tour.”

About 1.2 million people are going to schools in the United States on student visas.

Source: The New York Times April 5, 2016

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