Student Visa Fraud

By: Ji Hae Han

The current U.S. immigration system does not provide sufficient work authorization visas for F-1 students even after they earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in the U.S. institutions.

[1]  In consideration of 1.2 million F-1 students in the U.S.,[2] even though the non-immigrant employment visa, H1-B quota is a total of 85,000 each year – 65,000 for foreign-born workers plus 20,000 separately for foreign students “who ha[ve] obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher,” 20,000 is obviously insufficient for granting all the qualified F-1 students who have studied in the U.S..[3]

As a result, F-1 students who plan to or have yet to obtain employment authorization would be anxious about the lack of options to maintain their F-1 visa status in the U.S.[4]  It turns out that there would be a “real” immigration fraud regarding foreign student visas happening inside the U.S.[5]  The University of Northern New Jersey was a bait set up by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “ensnare criminals involved in student visa fraud.”[6]  21 brokers, who knowingly recruited “a total of 1,076 people,” mostly Chinese and Indian foreign students to this fake university, were arrested.[7]  Those brokers “charged the students in a scheme that allowed them to maintain their student visas and stay in the country.”[8]  “Some brokers also arranged, illegally, for work visas and jobs.”[9] The U.S Attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman stated that “all of the recruited students were already living in the United States, having initially obtained visas legally, but were looking for a way to stay. Many were living and working throughout the country.”[10]

As this incident has focused on the U.S. brokers’ student visa fraud, it becomes a critical issue where more and more F-1 students coming to the U.S. have only a few lawful ways of maintaining their visa status and engaging in employment in the U.S.[11]  Moreover, it is so much worse that people knowingly exploit visa opportunities of foreign students who might really want to study or work in the U.S..[12]  Given Mr. Fishman’s statement that fraudulent schools operated by fictitious recruiters were already widespread in the U.S.,[13] oversight of foreign student visa and of its work authorization would be enhanced from now on.[14]

[1] See U.S. Citizenship and Immigr. Servs, USCIS Reaches FY 2016 H-1B Cap (Apr. 07, 2015), https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-reaches-fy-2016-h-1b-cap (demonstrating that a week after starting filing H-1B petitions on April 01, 2015, all the 85,000 H-1B quota has already been filled up). See also U.S. Immigr. & Customs Enf’t, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System: Sevis by the Numbers at 7 (Aug. 2015) (While a M-1 nonimmigrant student, or vocational student engages in a full-time course of vocational or non-academic institution, a F-1 nonimmigrant student is enrolled as full-time in a high educational institution).

[2] U.S. Immigr. and Customs Enf’t., SEVP Releases 2015 International Student Data, Launches Interactive Mapping Tool (Mar. 25, 2015), https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-releases-2015-international-student-data-launches-interactive-mapping-tool.

[3] U.S. Citizenship and Immigr. Servs., H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Cap Season, https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2016-cap-season (Last updated on May 04, 2015) been filled up).

[4] See Keep the Future Here: Reverse the Brain Drain, Huffpost Politics: The Blog (May 27, 2015), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/opedspace/keep-the-future-here-reve_b_7444782.html.

[5] See Liz Robbins, New Jersey University Was Fake, but Visa Fraud Arrests Are Real, N.Y. Times (Apr. 5, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/nyregion/new-jersey-university-was-fake-but-visa-fraud-arrests-are-real.html?_r=0.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. (“[T]here were no classes and no faculty members.”).

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] See id.; U.S. Immigr. and Customs Enf’t, supra note 2.

[12] See Liz Robbins, supra note 5.

[13] Id.

[14] Miriam Jordan, Arrests in Student-Visa Fraud Investigation, The Wall Street Journal (Apr. 5, 2015, 3:31 p.m.), http://www.wsj.com/articles/arrests-in-student-visa-fraud-investigation-1459884664.

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