The New Jersey H Visa Sting
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) set up a fake university in New Jersey called the Northern New Jersey Univ. (NNJU) to catch people involved in fraudulent visa trafficking. The operation took slightly less than 3 years. In that time, the operation ensnared 21 individuals who are now charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and related violations. It also resulted in more than one thousand students receiving fraudulent masters degrees and specialty work visas.
H VISA TERMINATED
What then should be the treatment given to the students by ICE (and U.S. CIS which grants visas) who were enrolled in the school, obtained degrees, and have been hired in their field?
We know that students are being contacted by ICE and will be issued Notices to Appear before an Immigration Judge. We also know the former students are being notified by prospective employers that the job offers are invalid and their H visas terminated.
Should, however, the students be authorized to file for “U” visas, based on being a victim of a criminal conspiracy? Or, should they not be treated as innocent victims but instead seen as having partaken in an obviously fraudulent scheme to obtain fake degrees and work visas?
Should the students be authorized to re-apply in a valid degree program with an authorized school and have their student status “re-instated”? Under the INA, students are limited to applying for reinstatement by having no more than a single semester lapse in student status, due to circumstances beyond their control.