NEWARK, N.J. — The University of Northern New Jersey fielded no sports
teams, held no graduation ceremonies and had no instructors, classes or
degree programs. It did have a very attractive website that promised an
“exceptional” education for foreign students wishing to study
in the U.S.
The school was a sham from beginning to end — and it was created
by federal authorities, who used it to arrest 21 people on charges they
conspired to help more than 1,000 foreigners fraudulently keep or obtain
student or work visas over the past 2½ years.
The defendants whose arrests were announced Tuesday knew the school was
bogus, as did the foreigners, who pretended to be students there in order
to stay in the U.S., authorities said. But they didn’t know it was
set up as part of a sting by undercover agents from U.S. Immigration and
Most of the foreigners who benefited from the scam were from China and
India and were already in the U.S. on student visas, federal prosecutors
said. Officials said they have been identified and will be dealt with
by immigration authorities — meaning they could face deportation
— but won’t be prosecuted.
The 21 people arrested were described as brokers, recruiters and employers.
They were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and to harbor aliens
for profit. The second charge carries up to 10 years in prison. The defendants
awaited court appearances in Newark on Tuesday.
Most of the defendants are in the U.S. legally and live in New York, New
Jersey and California. One lives in Illinois, and one in Georgia.
The University of Northern New Jersey’s elaborate website promised
“a high quality American education to students from around the world.”
The site contained 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.
The site, which was taken offline Tuesday afternoon, even had a school
seal that appeared to have been modeled on Princeton University’s,
except that the fake institution’s colors were bluish-purple and
green instead of orange and black. The university listed as its address
a real building in Cranford, about 15 miles outside New York City.
The middlemen under arrest paid the undercover agents running the school
thousands of dollars to produce paperwork that made it look as if the
foreigners were enrolled at UNNJ, federal prosecutors said. That enabled
the “students” to maintain their visa status without having
to go to class.
“This was just another stop on the ‘pay-to-stay’ tour,”
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
Immigration officials have investigated hundreds of suspected fake schools,
or “visa mills,” in recent years. Some have led to charges:
Officials at two schools in California and one in Georgia received prison
sentences, including one who got 16 years for visa fraud and other charges.
In this case, though, federal authorities set up their own bogus institution.
And Fishman said that once word got out about the place, the middlemen
REVILLA LAW FIRM, P.A.
Miami immigration lawyers
Contact Revilla Law Firm, P.A., to schedule a free in-office consultation
with Antonio G. Revilla III.
- Mr. Revilla has almost 25 years of legal experience and is known around
the South Florida legal community for helping thousands of immigrants
remain in the United States with an aggressive but diplomatic approach
- Antonio G. Revilla III is a Former U.S. Immigration Prosecutor who has
a unique understanding of how the immigration court system works.
- Mr. Revilla is a Past President of the prestigious American Immigration
Laywers Association (AILA), South Florida Chapter and also serves as Co-Chair
for the EOIR Liaison Committee for AILA's South Florida Chapter.
- Antonio Revilla is qualified to offer expert legal testimony in immigration cases.
- Mr. Revilla has appeared on television, radio, and in numerous publications
as a legal commentator on various immigration issues.
Call Revilla Law Firm, P.A., today for the quality legal representation
(305) 858-2323 or toll free (877) 854-2323
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org