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S Visa Foreign Nationals

Do you have important information about a crime, the pending commission of a crime, or a criminal organization?

Are you a foreign citizen willing to provide this information to law enforcement authorities?

If “Yes” is your answer to both of the above questions, you may be eligible for an S visa. The S Visa is for persons who have critical, reliable information about a criminal organization or enterprise, and whose presence in the U.S. is essential to for successful investigation or prosecution of that organization or enterprise. According to a Congressional Research Service report to Congress (1/19/05), in a ten-year period, more than 900 foreign national informants received S visas to assist law enforcement officers in their work against criminals and criminal organizations. Currently, there are 400 S visas available each year.

What do I have to show to qualify for an S visa?

To qualify for an S visa, the foreign national informant must meet the following requirements:

  1. Possession of critical, reliable information about a criminal enterprise, operation or organization;
  2. Willing to supply or has supplied such information to federal law enforcement authorities or federal court;
  3. Will be or has been placed in danger as a result of providing this information; and,
  4. Meets other requirements.

What documents are required prior to filing an S visa application?
The application must be made on Form I-854, along with evidence of: the applicant’s cooperation; the need for his or her presence; grounds of inadmissibility; and factors warranting favorable exercise of discretion.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on an S visa?
An S visa holder can remain in the U.S. for three years.

Can I apply for adjustment of status for Permanent Residence on an S visa?
Yes, if the information provided substantially contributed to the success of the investigation, and/or a Department of State award has been granted.

Can I change status from an S visa?
No. You can change status to an S visa, but you cannot change status from an S visa. Most grounds of inadmissibility can be waived. Immediate relatives can accompany the beneficiary.

Can my family members accompany me to the U.S. on a U visa?
Yes. A spouse, children, and parents may accompany or follow or join the S visa holder, if the government finds it appropriate.


If you have important information about a crime or a criminal enterprise and are willing to provide that information to the U.S. government, you may be eligible for an S visa. A number of conditions must be met in order to qualify for an S visa. The family (including spouse, children and parents) of an S visa holder may accompany, follow or join him or her, given the government’s consent.

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