S visas for Informants and Witnesses
What is the S visa?
It is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who assist US law enforcement by being informants or witnesses
in a federal or state law enforcement investigation or prosecution in the US. The S visa is a temporary
visa but after the S visa holder has testified, the US law enforcement agency that sp
onsored the S visa
holder may petition the USCIS for the issuance of a permanent resident status to the S visa holder.
What are the benefits of the S visa?
Usually, US visas are not available to persons who have been convicted of crimes in the US or in their
foreign country of residence. Aliens in the US who may be eligible for removal or deportation may be
allowed to stay in the US under the S visa. The S visa waives these grounds of inadmissibility. The S visa
protects the witness or informant by removing them from their home countries where they may be in
danger. The spouse and children of the S visa holder may come to the US and join the S-visa holder.
What are the limitations of the S visa?
Only 200 S visas are issued every year. 50 additional S visas are issued to foreign nationals who provide
critical, reliable information about a terrorist organization and who qualify for a reward under the State
Department’s rewards program. During their stay in the US, the S visa holders must:
- Report to the Attorney General every three months
- Inform the Attorney General of their whereabouts and activities
- Not be convicted of a crime with a penalty of one or more years in prison
- Agree that they will not resist deportation order
- Present evidence of facts that constitute their fear of persecution if they were to return home.
- Adhere to all conditions imposed on their stay by the Attorney General
Who is eligible for an S visa?
Persons are eligible to enter the US on an S visa if:
- They have reliable information regarding a crime that has been committed or a crime that will
- They are willing to share the information with law enforcement officials.
- They are willing to testify in court
- Their presence in the US is necessary for the investigation or prosecution to succeed.
- Their continued stay in their country or residence will put them in danger
- They are qualified to receive a reward from the State Department for providing information.
What document should be filed for an S visa?
The primary document to be filed is the Inter-Agency Alien Witness and Informant Record (Form I-854).
This document provides the reasons of the US government agency to cooperate with the witness or
Who can file a petition for an S Visa?
A federal or state government agency must file the petition for an S visa. When the state or federal
government agency files this petition, they are assuming responsibility for the foreign national from the
time they arrive in the US until the time they depart.
How long is the validity of an S visa?
An S visa is valid for up to three years. It cannot be extended. The S visa holders may, however, adjust
their status to permanent legal resident.
When can the S visa holder apply for an adjustment of status?
The S visa holder can apply for adjustment of status to a legal permanent resident when the
investigation or prosecution by the US state or federal agency was successful; and the S visa holder
substantially contributed to the success of the investigation or prosecution.
Do you have questions? Do you think you are eligible for an S visa?
Do you need help proving that you
have significantly contributed to the success of an investigation or prosecution by a US state or federal
agency? Call our immigration lawyers at Lluis Law today.