Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Shah Peerally Law Group Coming to the Defense of Students of the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ)!

On April 5th 2016, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) closed down a school known as the University of Northern New Jersey (UNNJ). UNNJ was set up by the government as a sting operation to “trap” both brokers and foreign students on possible visa fraud. The operation had twenty-one brokers charged with several counts of visa fraud, harboring aliens among other charges. Today not only the brokers are affected but thousands of students who attended the school. While the sting operation, uprooted many alleged criminals, it left thousands of foreign students mainly from India and China in either a limbo or in fear of prosecution.

Since April 6th 2016, the Shah Peerally Law Group PC (SPLG) has been receiving calls across all the United States and even from abroad regarding this situation. Many of the calls were from students who were actually in UNNJ as it was shut down but also from some who had actually transferred out of UNNJ prior to April 5th 2016. As a result the law firm has set up a special update page (UNNJ Updates) on its website to update those affected. SPLG has also set consultations to guide or help those affected. In 2011, a quite similar situation happened in California with the Tri Valley University students (TVU), the law firm was at the forefront of the fight to protect the students. While TVU was not exactly similar UNNJ, it did bear some similarities. As such, the law is quite experienced on the course of action to be taken. SPLG has tried to identify and somehow categorized the individuals who are being affected. The law firm has primarily been able to classify the individuals in the following categories:

  • Category I - Active participants in the fraud scheme and hence were arrested under criminal charges.
  • Category II - Those who were solicited by brokers and placed in Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and ultimately in removal proceedings. 
  • Category III - Those who found the school on their own and spoke directly to the school. Many of them have just have had their SEVIS terminated and asked to leave. However some are being arrested and placed in removal proceedings.
  • Category IV - Those who moved to other schools and are mostly having their current SEVIS record and student visa status terminated. Some of them are also being placed in removal proceedings after being questioned. 
  • Category V - Those who changed to other visas such as H1B visas or H4 visas have been heavily questioned by the ICE officers. But we do not have any report of arrest or removal proceedings issue at this point. 
  • Category VI – All others. 


So far the above are just few categories identified by SPLG as per the information obtained through investigations. However, they are not exactly defined at this point except it gives an idea where the investigation is going. Cases are individually being assessed and reliefs are being recommended as per specific case. Note that relief(s) in one case do(es) not mean that the same relief(s) are available to others. Therefore an individual consultation might actually be very helpful. The law firm is actively looking into all the possibilities of relief(s) including reinstatement, U visas, possible asylums and other options to help in the defense.

For those who are affected, it is recommended to contact a lawyer to individually assess their cases and find a possible relief(s). Stakeholders are reminded to know their rights as immigrants. The right to remain silent and the right to counsel will attach if present in the United States. It is highly recommended not to speak to any authorities without the presence of an attorney. Anything that an individual says or discloses might be used against him/her. Therefore silence and requesting an attorney's presence might make a big difference.

Stakeholders should actually update themselves of what is happening in order to assess what are the options available to them. SPLG re-iterate its commitment of dedication and compassion to the immigrant communities and urge the authorities to be fair to all the students.The law firm hopes that a fair resolution will be adopted and that authorities will not imperil innocents who were just victims of circumstances.

For more information please call us at 510-742 5887