In late 2013 US federal agents set up a fake college called the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ) to support investigations into student visa fraud, and in particular criminal activity linked to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
The UNNJ operated with a small storefront office staffed by US federal agents posing as university administrators. It had no instructors or educators, and delivered no actual classes.
In April 2016 federal agents arrested 21 brokers, recruiters, and employers from across the US who allegedly conspired with over 1,000 foreign nationals to fraudulently obtain student visas and foreign worker visas by enrolling students in the UNNJ. According to the US Attorney’s Office many of those arrested “operated recruiting companies for purported international students.”
The statement from the US Attorney issued at the time of the arrest said:
During the course of their dealings with undercover agents, the defendants fully acknowledged that none of their foreign national clients would attend any actual courses, earn actual credits, or make academic progress toward an actual degree in a particular field of study. Rather, the defendants facilitated the enrollment of their foreign national clients in UNNJ to fraudulently maintain student visa status, in exchange for kickbacks, or “commissions.” The defendants also facilitated the creation of hundreds of false student records, including transcripts, attendance records, and diplomas, which were purchased by their foreign national conspirators for the purpose of deceiving immigration authorities.
The US Attorney listed the names of those arrested and the offences with which they were charged, but the names of the associated businesses and education agents were a bit harder to find. They were included in the statements of fact within separate ‘complaints’ , which were provided as pdf documents. We’ve pulled out the information and included it below to make it more accessible. (They are now also included in our Education Alert Database.)
The charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and making a false statement each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens for profit and H1-B Visa fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.
Important: The US Attorney’s Office statement made it clear that the “allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.” AgentBee has not investigated the outcome of any of these matters.
Working with education agents? Manage the risk
An effective and well managed education agent strategy can deliver great results for your institution and international students.
When education agents behave badly, students are harmed and the reputation of the institution takes a hit. Our database of education agent alerts shows the damage caused when agents are unprofessional, unethical or dishonest.
It is critical that you manage the risk effectively by implementing a best practice education agent recruitment, monitoring and management system. The protection of your institution and international students depends on it.
AgentBee offers a free solution that will hugely improve your approach to education agent recruitment, monitoring and management, and save you a heap of time in the process.