Two Indians in the US state of New Jersey have been charged with visa fraud for recruiting foreign nationals at a ‘pay to stay’ college where they maintained their clients’ student visa status with full-time work authorisations without having to attend classes.
Harpreet Sachdeva, 26, and Sanjeev Sukhija, 35, currently on a foreign worker visas and living in New Jersey have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
On 5 April, 2016, 22 brokers, recruiters, and employers, including Sachdeva and Sukhija, were charged with enrolling foreign nationals in the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ), the justice department said in a statement Tuesday.
Sachdeva and Sukhija were employed at Right OPT, a purported international student recruiting and consulting company located in Somerset, New Jersey.
UNNJ represented itself as a school that, among other things, was authorised to issue a document known as a “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students,” commonly referred to as a Form I-20.
This document, which certifies that a foreign national has been accepted to a school and would be a full-time student, typically enables legitimate foreign students to obtain an F-1 student visa.
With the visa, they can enter or remain in the United States while they make normal progress toward the completion of a full course of study at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) accredited institution.
According to court papers, Sachdeva and Sukhija told Right OPT’s foreign recruits that for a fee, they could enrol at UNNJ without having to attend any classes and that their enrolment would enable them to fraudulently maintain their nonimmigrant status.
With full knowledge that the recruits were not bona fide students and would not attend any course, earn credits, or make academic progress toward any legitimate degree at UNNJ, Sachdeva and Sukhija caused Forms I-20 to be issued to the foreign nationals.
The duo also caused the foreign nationals to be reported in government databases as legitimate foreign students.
In order to deceive immigration officials, Sachdeva, Right OPT’s foreign clients, and others obtained and created fraudulent student documents, including attendance records and transcripts, federal prosecutors said.
After enabling them to maintain their student visa status, Sachdeva and Sukhija also conspired to secure fraudulent work authorisations for some of their foreign clients.
In their guilty plea, they admitted that their intention was to profit from the scheme by outsourcing these foreign individuals through Right OPT as information technology consultants with various businesses in the United States for commissions.