If people are inadmissible to the U.S if they applied for any other type of visa, they can apply for the S Visa.
After the tragedy of the 9/11 events, the U.S government took some measures in order to prevent criminal or terrorist activity in the future. That is why the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed, making the S visa a tool to prevent such activities.
Furthermore, we will provide relevant information about the S visa.
What is the S Visa?
This visa is designed for aliens assisting law enforcement as criminal or terrorist informants. This type of visa is known as the “Snitch” visa and is a U.S nonimmigrant visa. This means that the S visa type holders are not allowed to live in the U.S permanently.
The U.S specifically designed this visa for people who will be rejected for any other type of visa. Also, the visa is for those who would be deportable. People with past criminal records or problems with immigration status can obtain this type of visa.
The S visa allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive these grounds of inadmissibility. However, this visa can only apply to the individual who has valuable information on a terrorist organization or a criminal activity. The person must prove that they are a valuable witness. Using the information provided by the S visa holder, the U.S officials can prevent illegal activity from happening in the U.S.
The S visa also applies for witnesses who possess valuable information concerning an illegal activity, and they are in danger in their home because of it. As long as they cooperate with the relevant authorities, the U.S government will provide a safe place for them to be.
The S Visa holder can live in the U.S for up to 3 years. All the U.S rules and laws must be followed by this person during their stay. They are given the chance to apply for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as well as work during the period of their stay in the U.S
It is important to know that there is an annual year limit for the S visa, which will prevent the visa from being misused. There are only 250 S visas issued each year. People who possess information about criminal activities can obtain 200 S visas, and the remaining 50 are for terrorist informants.
What are the Types of S Visas?
The S type of visa is segmented into two main types.
- The S-5 visa is for Criminal Informants who can provide valuable information that leads to preventing, discovering, and/or convicting a criminal organization;
- The S-6 visa is for Terrorist Informants who can provide valuable information that leads to preventing, discovering, and/or convicting a terrorist organization or attack;
- The S-7 visa is for the families of the S-5 and S-6 visa holders. This includes their spouses and children.
What are the S Visa Requirements?
Both types of S visa have different requirements. In the case of S-5 visa, the Attorney General is the main authority to determine eligibility. For the S-6 visa, the Attorney General, as well as the Secretary of State, can determine the eligibility.
People that possess information about Criminal Activities can obtain S-5 visa. The requirements for the S-5 visa are below:
- The informant must be willing to share that information with U.S law enforcement officials or become a witness in court;
- The informant’s presence in the U.S is important and leads to the successful investigation or prosecution of that crime;
- The informant must have reliable information about an important aspect of a crime or pending commission of a crime.
As for the S-6 visa for Terrorist Informants, there are the following requirements:
- The informant is or will be in danger if they give this information;
- The informant is eligible to receive an award from the State Department because they provided this information;
- The informant must have reliable information about an important aspect of a terrorist organization or their activities;
- The informant must be willing to share that information with U.S law enforcement officials or become a witness in court.
How to Apply for the S Visa?
It is important to know that the person who has the information cannot apply for the S visa. Firstly they must go to the law enforcement authorities to prove that they have valuable information that can help the U.S government. The authorities will determine if the person is eligible under the S-5 or S-6 visas so the process can continue.
An application will be filed by the person only if the person is eligible for these types of visas. They must submit Form I-854, Inter-Agency Alien Witness and Informant Record. The worksheet must be prepared by the Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO) in the Form I-854. After all that they must attach all supporting documents.
A declaration must be written by the person who is being considered for the S visa. This declaration will prove that the applicant is waiving their rights to a deportation hearing and to contest. A senior official of the law enforcement agency will sign the application and after that is submitted for adjudication.
After completing these steps, the Attorney General, the OEO, and the State Department will work together in making the final decision about the visa.
What Are the S Visa Reporting Requirements?
When the information holder obtains the S visa, they must follow some requirements to uphold it. First of all, the S visa holder must regularly report to the law enforcement agency that is sponsoring them. They must give out all the information and knowledge about some criminal or terrorist organizations. They must also report about their day to day activities. The law enforcement agency will in turn report to the Criminal Division’s Office of Enforcement Operations and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
They also must report to the Attorney General quarterly. If the S visa holder fails to complete the reporting duties they can be deported. In this case, the deportation authority is the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Furthermore, the informant must not be involved in any criminal activities. It is important to know that if they commit any criminal offense, they can lose their non-immigration status and end up in prison for one or more years.
How Long is an S Visa Valid?
This type of visa will expire in 3 years. The U.S authorities have determined that 3 years is enough time for the person to communicate and provide the help that will close any criminal or terrorist activities. After 3 years, the person must change their status and apply for a new type of visa or return to their home country.
You cannot be granted an extension for the S visa. It is extremely difficult for the informant to qualify for changes in status just because of their inadmissibility. However, the person can apply for a Green Card.
Can I Get a Green Card With an S Visa?
In order to change their status and obtain a Green Card, the S visa holder must apply before their S visa expires. Firstly they must take several steps in order to make sure that they are eligible.
The first step is to get the Form I-854 with letters which will prove that the informant has fulfilled their duty to the law enforcement agency by providing relevant information that the U.S government can use to prevent criminal or terrorist activities. The second step is to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. It is important to know that in the form the applicant must check the box “h” in part 2 and write “S Nonimmigrant” on the line next to that box.
Following are some of the supporting documents that must be provided alongside the Form I-485:
- A copy of their Form I-94, Entry/Exit Record;
- Copies of all the pages of their passport;
- A letter showing all the dates of departure and entry in the U.S with explanations of why the informant had to leave the U.S.;
- Two photos fulfilling the Photo Requirements;
- A copy of their birth certificate;
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record;
- Proof of relationships if the informant also has dependents that are applying for permanent residence. This includes marriage or birth certificates.
- Proof that the informant had a job during the time in the U.S;
- Receipts that they have paid all the necessary fees.
Can My Family Join Me in The U.S With an S Visa?
Everyone that possesses an S visa will be allowed to bring their dependents in the U.S. The dependents in this particular case are the spouse and the children. The children can be married or unmarried. As we mentioned before, the family of the S-5 and S-6 visa holders are allowed to obtain an S-7 visa.
Even though both the S-5 and the S-6 visa have annual limits, the number of S-7 visas issued is not limited in any way. This means for those 250 people who qualify for S visa, there are unlimited S-7 visas for their family members.
Law enforcement agency will apply for the informant for the S visa as well as for their family members. So the application will have the required S-7 visa documents. If the S-5 and S-6 visa are approved, the OEO will approve the S-7 visas automatically.
The S-7 visa holders are allowed to attend a school or get an EAD to legally work. It is good to know that when the S visa informant applies for status change by becoming Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) and get a Green Card, all family members that are on S-7 visa qualify for it.