Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an avenue for undocumented children to obtain legal status when they cannot be reunified with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and it is not in their best interest to return to their home country. Youth who are successful in obtaining a special immigrant juvenile visa are eligible to apply for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (a green card).
Immigrant children who have suffered abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one or by both of their parents and who are present in the United States may seek Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).
Applicants for SIJS must be under the age of 18, unmarried, and unable to reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
Applicants must also be dependent on a juvenile court in the United States, typically by being placed in foster care or delinquency systems. Or, in the alternative, they must be legally committed to or placed under the custody of a person or an institution in the United States.
Applicants for SIJS must further demonstrate that it is in their best interest to remain in the United States and not be returned to their country.
Children who are awarded SIJS are automatically “forgiven” for actions that would likely prevent lawful permanent residence for other individuals, such as entry without inspection, failure to maintain valid nonimmigrant status, and working without authorization. They may also apply for waivers for other, more serious actions, such as prior deportations or criminal activity.
It is important to note that children who receive permanent residency and then U.S. citizenship through SIJS will never be able to petition for lawful permanent residency for their parents.
The SIJS process includes two or three steps, depending on the procedural posture of the case. Very broadly, the steps are as follows:
Seek an order from a state juvenile court making three findings required for SIJS;
That the child has been declared dependent on a juvenile court or legally committed to or placed under the custody of a state agency or department or an individual or entity appointed by a state or juvenile court;
That reunification with one or both of the child’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law; and
That it is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to his or her country of nationality or last habitual residence.2
Apply for a special immigrant juvenile visa with USCIS using Form I-360
Apply for adjustment of status (a green card) using a Form I-485 either with USCIS or the Immigration Court.
The SIJS process can be quite complicated and the mountain of paperwork must be submitted clearly and perfectly to ensure approval of both the I-360 and green card applications. You should only place your trust in the hands of a reputable and experienced immigration attorney. The team at Law Group International has years of experience in the SIJS process with a proven record of accomplishment.
We invite you to call and schedule a Free Consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.