The University of Northern New Jersey looked like any other school: It had a website, a Facebook page, and a crest. Unlike other colleges, however, it was staffed entirely by Homeland Security agents. The Department of Justice announced this week it had indicted 21 people for visa fraud in a sting operation that centered on the fake school, invented in 2013 as a tool to catch those seeking fraudulent student visas to remain in the US. Agents say brokers purchased forged paperwork from UNNJ to obtain visas for 1,076 clients, knowing they would never attend any classes. Some acquired work visas, allowing clients to get jobs at Apple, Facebook, Morgan Stanley, and join the US Army, per ABC News and the New York Times. In exchange, the brokers took home thousands of dollars in commissions.
"The University of Northern New Jersey was just another stop on the pay-to-stay tour," says the US attorney for New Jersey. Authorities describe the defendants are mainly naturalized citizens and legal permanent residents. One Chinese national allegedly enrolled dozens of students at UNNJ. "You know that none of these people are going to class?" an undercover agent asked him, per BuzzFeed. "We've been doing this for years, no worries," he replied, according to an indictment. An immigration rep says the 1,076 "students"—many of whom are Indian or Chinese—have had their visas revoked and will be investigated by immigration authorities, reports NJ.com.