AzTech, Integra, Wireclass, Andwill Update: We Have Obtained Shocking Internal ICE Documents Concerning its Investigation. Part 2.
In Part 1, we described the materials recently received from a Freedom of Information Act request to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The materials are not only eye-opening but indeed shocking: they show that the students were let down by delinquent government and university actors that failed to warn them of the scam. Most mind-boggling: the US government is now using its own delinquency as a sword against these students in permanently barring them from the United States and using shell-game tactics to make it is as difficult as possible to challenge the bars. Here, we provide additional details from those ICE reports:
- The Homeland Security Investigations Wilmington office identified approximately 1,925 STEM OPT students associated with AzTech.
- HSI administratively arrested 15 STEM OPT students. (An administrative arrest is the arrest of a foreign individual for a civil – not criminal – violation of U.S. immigration laws. These cases are then turned over to an immigration judge or other administrative processes.)
- The materials note that the HSI Wilmington office coordinated “with the U. S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for visa refusals and denied entries for those students located outside the U.S.”
- The investigation was terminated at the Wilmington HSI office on April 6, 2021.
- The mastermind of the OPT scam was an Indian citizen, with possible violations of US laws including Money Laundering (18 U.S.C. § 1956), Wire Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), Harboring of Certain Aliens (8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(1)(A) (iv), Aiding or assisting certain aliens to enter (8 U.S.C. § 1327), Fraud and Misuse of Visa, Permits, and Other Documents (18 U.S.C. § 1546), and Conspiracy to Defraud the US (18 U.S.C. § 371).
- The investigation spanned numerous countries, including India, Australia, the UK, and Germany.
- An ICE report from early 2021 notes: “Several mala fide students that listed AZTECH as their employer on OPT petitions have been encountered by CBP at various U.S. ports of entry. These students have admitted in sworn statements that they never worked for AZTECH and they paid $700 to an AZTECH affiliated website (www.wireclass.com) and were sent employment verification letters on AZTECH letterhead in return.”
- The students were not only from India, but from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Jordan, Libya, Cameroon, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Sierra Leone, Serbia, Ukraine, Sudan, Taiwan, and United Arab Emirates.
- The students were enrolled in more than 70 different universities all over the US – not limited by location. These universities included the University of Michigan, Northeastern, University of Texas, University of Illinois, University of Southern California, Southern Methodist University, George Washington University, State University of New York, Arizona State, University of Massachusetts, and many, many others.
- According to the reports, the existence and OPT sponsorship of Wireclass goes all the way back to 2012. The reports also mention another related company, Infinity Technologies Group.
This is what is in the reports. But what is most interesting and devastating is what is not in the reports. The reports lack any analysis whatsoever about why the students signed up with these companies; whether a willful, material misrepresentation was indeed committed; how such a finding was to be communicated; and the consequences to befall the students. There is no analysis about how: 1) these companies appeared legitimate; 2) they had E-Verify numbers; 3) their representatives were sophisticated and convincing; 4) university DSOs did not warn the students of the possibility of scam artists in the world of OPT or even look into the bona fides of these companies; 5) no one from the US Government – not ICE, CBP or the Department of State – warned students of the possibility of scam artists; 6) ICE allowed the scam to continue to be perpetrated right under its noses for several years; 7) the US Government decided to automatically equate association with one of these companies as the commission of a willful, material misrepresentation; 8) the US Government has not afforded an opportunity to individuals to address and rebut the allegations; 9) USCIS approved H-1B petitions but did not advise the beneficiaries that a willful, material misrepresentation finding had been entered against them, with the beneficiaries only finding out after departing the US and applying for a new visa; and 10) by not informing them until after they left the United States, the US Government has consciously limited the remedies available and their ability to return to the US, irreparably damaging the careers and personal lives of these individuals, severely harming US businesses in the process, and even leading to US citizen children having to grow up outside the United States. The tragic consequences are too numerous to list here.
If you have been impacted by this scandal, please contact us to discuss your situation.