S visa is a very special nonimmigrant visa usually given to certain aliens to come to the United States as nonimmigrant informants of criminal organization information or terrorist activities information. By statute, the program is set to expire seven years after it was created i.e., program must end in 2000.
Attorney General must determine whether alien is eligible for a nonimmigrant visa as informant of criminal organization information (S-5 visa). Usually, such determination is made upon consideration of the facts that an alien has critical reliable information about criminal organization or enterprise; is willing to disclose or has already disclosed such information to the Courts in the United States; and whose presence in the United States is essential for the success of an authorized criminal investigation or for the successful prosecution of an individual involved in the criminal organization or enterprise.
The Attorney General and the Secretary of State jointly determine whether alien is eligible to come to the United States as nonimmigrant as informant of the terrorist activity (S-6). Such determination will be based on the facts that the alien has critical reliable information about the terrorist activity, or organization or enterprise; is willing to provide or has already provided such information to the federal authorities or federal courts; will or will be in danger for providing such information; and is eligible to receive a reward from the Department of State.
If USCIS determines that it is appropriate, spouse, married and unmarried sons or daughters and parents may accompany or follow to join the principal alien into the United States as nonimmigrants. Usually the petitioner for S visa will be the law enforcement agency that is seeking the assistance of alien. Such law enforcement agency must take the responsibility of the alien till the time of his or her departure from the United States from the date of admission to the United States.
For any fiscal year, number of aliens admitted into the United States as informants of criminal activities may not exceed 200 and informants of terrorist activities may not exceed 50. The period of admission is three years and DHS may not grant any extension of status.
An alien to remain in lawful status in the United States under S visa category, he is required to report not less than three months to the Department of Homeland Security regarding their whereabouts and activities; must not be convicted for any crime that is punishable with imprisonment for one year or more; must agree and executed a waiver for any rights to contest other than the basis of an application for withholding of removal or deportation based on the well founded fear of persecution at home country, if the removal process was began before the alien attained permanent residence in the United States; and any other conditions that are imposed on his or her stay in the United States.
Aliens under S visa category are allowed to adjust status as permanent resident under a special provision under Section 245(j) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If an alien provides information about criminal activity and such information has “substantially contributed” to a successful investigation or prosecution of a crime, he or she is eligible for adjustment of status.
Also, if an alien provides information and such information has “substantially contributed” to the prevention of an act of terrorism, or to the apprehension of a person involved in terrorist activities, he or she will be allowed to adjust status as permanent resident.
Family members who have been admitted in S-7 status are allowed to adjust status as well. Application for permanent residency must be made at the time of application for S visa by the law enforcement agency that was seeking aliens assistance. The application must be approved by the Assistant Attorney General in change of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and by the Commissioner of the USCIS. After this approval, the alien is allowed to apply for adjustment of status on Form I-485.