A. What is S visa?
An S non-immigrant is an individual who has assisted a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant. A law enforcement agency may submit an application for permanent residence (a green card) on behalf of a witness or informant when the individual has completed the terms and conditions of his or her S classification. Only a federal or state law enforcement agency or a U.S. Attorney’s office may submit a request for permanent residence as an S non-immigrant on behalf of a witness or informant. The requesting agency must also be the same agency that initially requested S non-immigrant status on behalf of the individual.
The maximum duration of stay for a person admitted under an S visa is 3 years.
Qualifying family members of the principal S non-immigrant may also be eligible to apply for a green card.
B. Qualification for S visa
- Criminal Informants (S-5)
The number of witnesses or informants granted S-5 status in a fiscal year may not exceed 20.
The S-5 classification may be granted to a foreign national who has been determined by the Attorney General to possess critical and reliable information concerning a criminal organization or enterprise. The alien must be willing to supply or have supplied this information to federal or state law enforcement authorities, or to a federal or state court. The Attorney General must also determine that the alien’s presence in the U.S. is essential to the success of an authorized criminal investigation or to the successful prosecution of an individual involved in a criminal organization or enterprise.
- Terrorist Informants (S-6)
The number of informants admitted under this classification may not exceed 50 in any fiscal year.
The S-6 classification may be granted to an alien who the Attorney General and Secretary of State have determined possesses critical and reliable information concerning a terrorist organization, operation, or enterprise, and who is willing to supply or has supplied information to federal law enforcement authorities or to a federal court. The Attorney General and Secretary must also determine that the alien has been or will be placed in danger as a result of providing information, and is eligible to receive a cash reward under§36(a) of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956.
- Accompanying Family Members (S-7)
The law allows the informant’ s accompanying family members — including spouses, married or unmarried children, and parents — to receive S non-immigrant visas. These accompanying family members are referred to as S-7 non-immigrants.