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S Visa
Following the tragedy of 9/11, the US government considered the possibility of future attacks and, in the hope of curbing and forestalling any such future attack, they passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which included provisions establishing the S-Visa as a tool available for use by the authorities. The S-Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that provides legal status to individuals who agree to serve as a witness or informant assisting law enforcement efforts aimed at dismantling criminal and terrorist organizations. This visa was created as a way to provide protections for people who would otherwise be considered inadmissible into the US due their background, associations, or various other factors.
The S-Visa allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive the grounds of inadmissibility. This waiver is granted only if the individual has valuable information pertaining to a terrorist or criminal organization, or about activity being undertaken by such an entity. This visa also serves to protect witnesses who might be in danger in their native country due to their cooperation with US government agencies.
S nonimmigrants are afforded three years of residency in the United States.

2 Types of S visas
To ensure that the S-Visa is not misused, there is a limit placed on their availability. Only 250 S-Visas can be issued in a year. The majority of them – 200 in total – are available to criminal informants, while the remaining balance of 50 are reserved for terrorist informants.

S 5 visa
The S-5 Visa is for persons who can provide valuable information that can be of use to investigate, disrupt or prosecute criminal networks and organizations. The Attorney General has primary authority to determine eligibility. The requirements for an S5 visa are:

1. The informant must have reliable information about each aspect of the crime
2. The informant should be willing to share the information with law enforcement officials
3. The informants’ presence in the US is necessary to successfully investigate or prosecute a crime

S 6 visa
The S-6 Visa is for individuals who can provide valuable information that can be of use to the investigation, prosecution or disruption of terrorist organizations and networks. The Attorney General and the Secretary of State have the authority to determine the eligibility. The requirements for an S6 visa are:

1. The informant should have reliable information regarding an important aspect of a terrorist organization or its activities
2. The informant should be willing to become the witness or share the information with the US law enforcement officials
3. The informant’s life would be in danger if they share this information
4. The informant is eligible to receive a reward for providing information to the State Department

The law allows the informant’s immediate family to accompany them on an S-7 Visa, in the interest of preventing harm from coming to them as a result of the primary holder’s cooperation with authorities.

Restrictions of S visa holders
If an informant gets their S-Visa, they need to follow some requirements to maintain it:

1. Reporting to the Attorney General once every three months about the activities and whereabouts
2. Not to be convicted in a crime that is punishable by one or more years in prison
3. They should strictly follow the conditions imposed by the attorney general
4. The need to agree not to contest deportation order other than because of the real fear of persecution in the native country

Adjustment of Status
S -Visa holders are allowed to adjust status to a permanent resident under a special provision, Section 245(j) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the information provided by the informant has “substantially contributed” to a successful investigation or prosecution, they are eligible for adjustment of status. For this, the informant will need to file Form I-854 Inter-Agency Alien Witness and Informant Record, along with letters proving that the informant has fulfilled their duty to the relevant law enforcement agency by reporting regularly. The next step is to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS.

If you need assistance with an S visa, our team of expert immigration lawyers at Rijal Law firm would be glad help you at each stage and make things a lot easier and faster for you.

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