Is the ‘S’ Visa available to you if you testify for the FBI?

Is the ‘S’ Visa available to  you if you testify for the FBI?

QUESTION: I have been notified by the FBI that they want me to testify against some very bad people. Is there anything I can do for my lack of immigration status?

Answer: It may be possible for you to get the S Visa. An S nonimmigrant is an individual who has assisted a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant. A law enforcement agency may submit an application for permanent residence (a green card) on behalf of a witness or informant when the individual has completed the terms and conditions of his or her S classification. Thus, not only can you get a temporary ‘S’ Visa, but you can also get a permanent residency if the proper requisites are met.

Question: So what must I do?

Answer: First, you would have to file Form I-854, Interagency Alien Witness and Informant Record. This form is to be completed by the federal or state law enforcement agency or the U.S. Attorney’s Office that initially filed for the S nonimmigrant status on your behalf.

Evidence that the witness or informant has fulfilled his or her obligations as an S nonimmigrant and provided information about all potential grounds of inadmissibility must be included with the completed and signed Form I-854 application. Failure to disclose all grounds of inadmissibility may result in you being removed (deported) from the United States. There are many more grounds that are waivable under the S Visa versus many other types of visas.

Question: What is the next step?

Answer: After Form I-854 is approved, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You should check box “h” in part 2 of the I-485 application and write “S Nonimmigrant” or “S-Qualified Family Member” on the line next to box “h.” Thus, the S Visa is not only available to you, but to family members as well.

Question: When I submit the adjustment package, what evidence should I submit?

Answer: You should submit the following: Two passport-style photos; Form G-325A, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age; Copy of birth certificate; Form I-693, Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record; Copy of Form I-94, Entry/Exit Record (if you have it); Copies of all pages in your passport. If you do not have a passport, you should submit an explanation of why you do not have a passport; A list showing the dates of all arrivals and departures from the United States while you were in S nonimmigrant status with an explanation for each departure of why you left the United States; Evidence of the relationship to the principal S nonimmigrant witness or informant (e.g., birth certificate, marriage certificate) if you are filing for a green card as a derivative beneficiary of an S nonimmigrant; Proof of employment and applicable fees.

Thus, as you can see, the S Visa can give great benefits if you qualify. In response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, Congress passed legislation making permanent a provision that allows aliens with critical information on criminal or terrorist organizations to come into the United States to provide information to law enforcement officials. This legislation (S. 1424) became P.L. 107-45 on October 1, 2001. The law amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide permanent authority for the administration of the “S” visa, which was scheduled to expire on September 13, 2001. On November 29, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the “Responsible Cooperators Program” to reach out to individuals who may be eligible for the S visa. The S visa quota allows 200 criminal informants and 50 terrorist informants to be admitted annually to the U.S. Since FY1995, almost 900 informants and their accompanying family members have entered on S visas.

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Atty. Brian D. Lerner has been an Immigration Attorney for nearly a quarter of a century. He is married to a Filipina and has helped thousands of Filipino families all over the country. In addition to his offices in Southern California in Long Beach and Carson, he has an office in Quezon City. He is a certified specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Legal Board of Specialization, California State Bar. The initial consultation is free. Call (562) 495-0554 and/or send an e-mail to blerner@californiaimmigration.us.

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