S Visa is a Visa for Informants with useful information regarding a criminal or terrorist organization in the US. With this type of visa, eligible Informants and their family members can live and work in the United States. But how does one qualify or apply for an S visa? This article provides answers to every question you have concerning the S Visa for Informants.
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What is an S Visa?
S visa is a US non-immigrant visa for Informants or witnesses who have relevant information about a criminal or terrorist organization in the US. To qualify for an S visa, individuals must be willing to provide information about criminals or terrorists that will aid law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute them.
The United States Congress introduced the S Visa in 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attack that claimed over 2,000 lives. To prevent such disasters from reoccurring, this visa category was designed for Informants.
This visa type is mostly issued to people who are inadmissible to the US under any other Visa type. An applicant may include people with past criminal records. However, these grounds of inadmissibility can be waived, only if the visa applicant has useful information about a criminal or terrorist organization. The information must be such that it can prevent or tackle criminal activities in the US.
Benefits of the S Visa for Informants
This visa holder may enjoy the following benefits:
- They can live in the US for 3 years.
- They can apply for a green card before the expiration of the visa.
- They are permitted to do any legal job in the US, if they are issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- They can study in the US.
- They are permitted to bring their immediate family members with them to the US.
Types of S Visas
There are 3 types of this visa for Informants. They include,
S-5 visa for Criminal Informants.
S-5 visas are issued to persons with information about criminal organizations or activities in the US. The annual numerical cap for the S-5 visa is 200.
S-6 Visa for Terrorist Informants
S-6 Visas are issued to persons with information about terrorist organizations or activities in the US. The annual numerical cap for the S-6 visa is 50.
S7 Visa for S-5 and S-6 dependents
S-7 Visas are issued to eligible family members of S-5 and S-6 Visa holders.
How to Qualify For an S-Visa
To qualify for the visa for Informants, you must meet these requirements.
- You must have useful information about an important aspect of a crime or criminal activities in the US
- You must agree to share that information with US law enforcement agencies or appear as a witness in court.
- Your presence in the US will lead to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal or terrorist organization.
- You must be willing to waive your rights to a deportation hearing. This implies that you cannot contest deportation from the US.
If you fail to meet certain conditions of the S-Visa, you may be deported from the US. Continue reading this article to find out about these conditions.
How To Apply for S Visa
If you have important information about a criminal or terrorist organization, you must inform the Law enforcement agency before applying for an S-visa.
It is the law enforcement agency that will determine whether you’re qualified for the S-5 or S-6 visas. If you’re qualified, law enforcement will file an application on your behalf.
The application includes,
- Form I-854, Inter-Agency Alien Witness and Informant Record.
- Form I-854 with a worksheet prepared by the Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO).
- Other supporting documents.
After filing the Application forms, you are required to write a declaration. This declaration shows that you are willing to waive your rights to a deportation hearing.
Lastly, your application will be reviewed by the Attorney General of the State Department and the OEO.
How Long Does It Take To Get an S-Visa
The Processing time for an S-visa may vary from person to person. There is no estimated time to get an S-Visa processed. After a successful application, you will be informed once your S visa is ready.
Conditions To Be Met by an S Visa Holder
If you’re issued an S-Visa, you must meet the following conditions, else you may be deported from the US.
- You’re required to report regularly to the law enforcement agency. As an informant, you are expected to keep the law enforcement agency updated on the daily activities of the criminal or terrorist organization you’re snitching on.
- You are required to report quarterly to the Attorney General of the United States.
- You must not be involved in any criminal activities during your stay in the US.
Can I Bring My Family Members With this Visa
S-visa holders are permitted to bring their family members to the US. The eligible family members may include the spouse and married or unmarried children of S Visa holders.
If they qualify, they will be issued an S-7 visa. Fortunately, there is no numerical cap for an S-7 visa. All S-7 Visa holders are entitled to the same benefits due to the S-5 and S-6 visa holders
How Long Can I Stay in the US with an S-Visa
An S visa is valid for 3 years, after which the informant is expected to leave the US. An S Visa holder can seek a change of status but cannot extend the validity of this visa.
Can I Apply for a Green Card with an S-Visa
Yes, before the expiration of this type of visa, you can apply for a green card by following these steps:
- File Form I-854 with letters proving you have fulfilled your duty to the law enforcement agency.
- File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
If you have questions about the S Visa, kindly write to us in the comments section below.