9-72.000 - Nonimmigrant VISA Classification

9-72.100 S Visa Program
9-72.110 Monitoring of Aliens with Special Status by Law Enforcement Agencies 

9-72.100 S Visa Program

The Violent Crime Control Act of 1994 amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a new "S" nonimmigrant visa classification. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(S).

This classification is available to a limited number of aliens who supply critical reliable information necessary to the successful investigation and/or prosecution of a criminal organization, or who supply or critical reliable information concerning a terrorist organization, if the alien is eligible to receive a State Department reward under the Rewards for Justice Program. Id.see also 22 U.S.C. § 2708. The statute permits the aliens selected for the program, and eligible family members, to be admitted to the United States in a temporary nonimmigrant status for up to three years, see 8 U.S.C. § 1184(k)(3), and authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to waive most grounds of inadmissibility.

Applications for S nonimmigrant visa classification must be certified by the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Further information concerning the S Visa program may also be obtained by contacting the Office of Enforcement Operations, Criminal Division at (202) 514-6809.

[updated January 2020]


9-72.110   Monitoring of Aliens with Special Status by Law Enforcement Agencies 

As described in JM § 9-72.100, an S visa grants an alien who is otherwise inadmissible to or deportable from the United States special status to remain in the United States temporarily for up to three years.  See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(S).  In addition to the S visa, law enforcement can request that the Secretary of Homeland Security or his or her designee exercise discretion under other authorities to permit an otherwise deportable alien to be lawfully brought into or remain in the United States to act as a witness or to otherwise support an investigation or prosecution.  See, e.g., 8 C.F.R. § 212.5(b)(4) and (5).  Sponsoring entities monitor and report regularly on the whereabouts of the aliens who are applying for or have been granted such special status.  See, e.g., 8 CFR § 214.2(t)(7) and Form I-854. 

Direct sponsorship of an alien for an S visa or other special status, as well as monitoring and reporting on aliens who are applying for or have been granted special status, should be undertaken only by law enforcement agents, not by federal prosecutors or other employees in the United States Attorneys’ offices (USAOs), with the following limited exception.  In the unusual event that no law enforcement agency is willing to undertake or continue such sponsorship, monitoring, and/or reporting, United States Attorneys’ offices that employ sworn federal agents who are formally designated as Special Deputy U.S. Marshals, may seek approval from the Deputy Attorney General’s Office to allow these sworn Special Deputy U.S. Marshals to undertake sponsorship, monitoring, and reporting in the first instance, or to continue monitoring and reporting on special status aliens previously sponsored by a law enforcement agency.  Among the factors impacting the decision to approve such a request by a USAO to directly sponsor, monitor, and/or report on an alien pending or in such special status are the reasons why no other federal law enforcement agency will undertake the responsibilities and requirements and the principal alien’s impact on a successful outcome in the particular investigation or case.  When seeking such approval, USAOs should first notify the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which will track all such requests, including, if ultimately granted, the expiration date of the alien’s special status.  

[updated January 2020]

Updated January 31, 2020