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Fake University Important to Bust Pay-to-Stay Scheme, ICE Says

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has come out clear on setting up a fake university that it said was necessary to understand the pay-to-stay scheme and abuse of nonimmigrant student visa system in the United States.

In an open letter written by Derek Benner, who is serving as an Acting Deputy Director at ICE, said that establishing the University of Farmington allowed them to understand how the student visa system was used to allow foreign nationals to remain in the United States in violation of their nonimmigrant status.

The fake school was set up by the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 as part of a sting operation to bust foreigners fraudulently enrolling in U.S. schools for visa purposes, as well as recruiters profiting off of registering students in these fake programs.

The letter stated that the individuals who were enrolled at Farmington “knowingly and willfully” violated their nonimmigrant visa status.

“These individuals were not new to the U.S. student visa system; they were familiar with its requirements and their obligations. They secured visas to enroll in another U.S. school, and were already in the United States when they transferred to Farmington,” the letter reads.

“Prior to enrolling at Farmington, each prospective enrollee was informed that there were no classes, curriculum or teachers at Farmington. Despite this, individuals enrolled because they saw an opportunity to avoid any academic requirements and, instead, work full-time, which was a violation of their nonimmigrant status,” it adds.

Benner said the Farmington investigation has equipped and improved the department’s potential of uncovering such fraud at schools along with giving an insight into the networks within the country that allow such abuse to happen.

Importantly, the department has arrested nearly 250 students, recruiters and deported most of them while recruiters who have pleaded guilty to charges have been sentenced in Detroit.

ICE Makes 250 Arrests in Fake University Scandal