Over 1,000 people, mostly Indian and Chinese students, are facing deportation from the US after being caught in an undercover operation which involved a fake university set up by the US government to catch visa fraud.
21 suspects were arrested on Tuesday of felony charges that include conspiracy to commit visa fraud; they could face multiple years in prison.
“Foreigners who used the services will likely not be prosecuted, but will have their visas revoked,” New Jersey US Attorney Paul Fishman told reporters on Tuesday.
Federal investigators in 2013 set up the phony “University of Northern New Jersey”, which had a website that promised “exceptional” education for foreign students wishing to study in the US and provided links to academic programs, a message from the “president,” a Dr. Steven Brunetti, Ph.D.; and photos of attractive young people sitting around a library table or consulting with a faculty member.
Its “office” was staffed by undercover agents who posed as school administrators.
The accused, however, were not aware of the fact that the university they called was being investigated by federal agents working under a sting operation.
According to the US authorities, around 1,000 foreign students were given accommodation in the US by the accused after completing all the legal formality from this fake University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ).
Moreover, the foreign nationals visa of non-immigrant students will be canceled and in a few cases, arrest will also be made.
As per the official sources, the Indian Embassy is in constant contact with the US government for seeking fair decision for around 370 Indian students. The embassy has also appealed the US officials not to arrest and deport the Indian students.
In the US, F-1 student visas allow foreign students to enter or remain in the country as they study.
Immigration officials have investigated hundreds of suspected fake schools, or “visa mills,” in recent years.
(With agencies input)