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S Visa

Do you have relevant information about a crime, the imminent commission of a crime, or a criminal organization?

Are you a foreign citizen willing to provide this information to law enforcement authorities?

If “Yes” is your answer to both of the above questions, you may be eligible for an S visa. The S Visa is for persons who have critical, reliable information about a criminal organization or enterprise, and whose presence in the U.S. is essential to for successful investigation or prosecution of that organization or business. According to a Congressional Research Service report to Congress (1/19/05), in a ten-year period, more than 900 foreign national informants received S visas to assist law enforcement officers in their work against criminals and criminal organizations. Currently, there are 400 S visas available each year.

WHAT DO HAVE TO SHOW TO QUALIFY FOR AN VISA?

To be eligible for an S visa, the foreign national informant must meet the following requirements:

  1. Possession of critical, reliable information about a criminal enterprise, operation, or organization;
  2. Willing to supply or has supplied such information to federal law enforcement authorities or federal court;
  3. Will be or has been placed in danger as a result of providing this information; and,
  4. Meets other requirements.

WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED BEFORE FILING AN VISA APPLICATION?

The application must be made on Form I-854, along with evidence of the applicant’s cooperation, the need for his or her presence, grounds of inadmissibility, and factors warranting a favorable exercise of discretion.

HOW LONG CAN STAY IN THE U.S. ON AN VISA?

An S visa holder can remain in the U.S. for three years.

CAN APPLY FOR ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE ON AN VISA?

Yes, if the information provided substantially contributed to the success of the investigation, and/or a Department of State award has been granted.

CAN CHANGE STATUS FROM AN VISA?

No. You can change status to an S visa, but you cannot change status from an S visa. Most grounds of inadmissibility can be waived.

CAN MY FAMILY MEMBERS ACCOMPANY ME TO THE U.S. ON A VISA?

Yes. A spouse, children, and parents may accompany or follow or join the S visa holder if the government finds it appropriate. Immediate relatives can accompany the beneficiary.

CONCLUSION

If you have relevant information about a crime or a criminal enterprise and are willing to provide that information to the United States government, you may be eligible for an S visa. Some conditions must be met to qualify for an S visa. The family (including spouse, children, and parents) of an S visa holder may accompany, follow, or join him or her, given the government’s consent.

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