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How to stay and live in the US legally if you have provided information on organized crime, terrorist activity, etc.

What is an S Visa?

The S visa is issued to persons who assist American Law Enforcement Personnel to investigate and prosecute crimes and terrorist activities, organized crime, money laundering, etc. There are two types of S visas:

  • 1. S-5 Visa
  • 2. S-6 Visa

Am I eligible for an S-5 Visa?

To be eligible for an S-5 Visa, the US Attorney General must determine that the individual applying:

  • possesses reliable information regarding an important aspect of a crime or pending commission of a crime;
  • is willing to share this information with a law enforcement official or to testify in court, and
  • the applicant�s presence in the US is necessary to the successful investigation or prosecution of the case.

Am I eligible for an S-6 Visa?

To be eligible for an S-6 Visa, both the US Attorney General and the Secretary of State must agree that the applicant:

  • possesses reliable information regarding an important aspect of a terrorist organization or plot,
  • is willing to share this information with law enforcement officials or to testify in court,
  • has or will be placed in danger for providing that information, and
  • is eligible to receive an award from the State Department for providing such information.

Who is the petitioner for filing an S Visa?

The petitioner is an S visa classification is the law enforcement agency with which the alien is cooperating. The application is made on Form I-854, called the Inter-Agency Alien Witness and Informant Record. The application must include the agency�s reasons for seeking the cooperation of the alien applying for the S visa. The law enforcement agency must also assume responsibility for the alien from their admission date until departure from the United States.

Are there any restrictions on the visa holder while the S- Visa holder is in the USA?

Yes. S Visa holders are subject to strict restrictions. The restrictions are:

  • Reporting to the Attorney General every three months regarding their whereabouts and activities;
  • Not being convicted of a crime that is punishable by one or more years in prison;
  • They must agree that they will not contest a deportation order by any means other than an application for withholding based on fear of persecution if returned home if the deportation proceedings are begun before the alien becomes a permanent resident, and
  • They must adhere to any other conditions on their stay the Attorney General imposes.

Can the S Visa holder change his or her status?

Yes. S Visa holders can adjust their status to permanent resident (green card holder) under a special provision under Section 245(j) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the information supplied by the alien has substantially contributed to a successful investigation or prosecution of a crime, he/she is eligible to adjust status (obtain green card). Similarly, if the alien�s information substantially contributed to the prevention of an act of terrorism, or to the apprehension of a person involved in terrorist activities, he/she is also allowed to adjust status (obtain green card).

Do family members of the S Visa applicant get benefits?

Spouses, unmarried and married children and parents of S-5 and S-6 non-immigrants are allowed to enter the US in S-7 status. They must be included on Form I-854. The application must be approved by the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the criminal division of the Justice Department and by the Commissioner of the USCIS. After this approval, the alien is allowed to apply for adjustment of status.


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