The S visa is for individuals who are willing and able to provide information on criminal or terrorist activities to law enforcement agencies.
This visa will allow temporary residence lasting up to three years. However, no extensions may be granted.
S nonimmigrant classification is divided into S-5 and S-6 visas. S-7 visas are also available for family members of the S-5 or S-6 visa holder.
An S-5 visa is for a person who has critical and reliable information related to an investigation and/or prosecution of a criminal organization.
The applicant must be willing to supply this information or have already provided it to authorities.
Before the S-5 visa is granted, the U.S. Attorney General must determine that the applicant’s admission to the United States would be essential to the success of an authorized investigation or prosecution.
Each year only 200 S-5 visas can be granted.
The S-6 visa is for individuals with reliable information about a terrorist organization or operation. The applicant must be willing and able to supply this information to U.S. law enforcement agents.
An applicant also must be or have been in danger as a result of providing the information.
The U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of State must agree that the applicant is eligible for the S-6 visa.
Only 50 S-6 visas are provided each year.
The Application Process
The law enforcement agency being aided by the foreign citizen must initiate the process by filing Form I-854, Interagency Alien Witness and Informant Record. This application must include an explanation for why the alien’s cooperation is being sought by the agency.
The petition can be filed for an alien outside the United States or a person already residing in the U.S. but facing deportation. If the person is outside the U.S. the petitioning agency must agree to take responsibility for the alien from the date of admission until they leave the country.
The highest level official at the petitioning agency must endorse the petition.
Family members of the S-5 or S-6 visa holder may file for S-7 visas to accompany them to the United States and may be allowed to do so upon the determination of the Attorney General or Secretary of State.
Adjustment of Status
S visa holders may apply for permanent residence through a process initiated by the law enforcement agency they helped.
This is done by filing Form I-854 again and then by the applicant filing form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Alien Residence or Adjust Status.