Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Federal law provides protection for certain unaccompanied minors who come to the United States. Children who cannot reunify with their parent(s) due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and may obtain lawful permanent residency (“green card”).
Obtaining SIJS is a two-step process, involving both the state juvenile courts and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). First, a juvenile court must make specific findings that the reunification with one or both parents is not possible due to abuse, abandonment, or similar grounds under state law; and, that it is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to his/her parents or country of nationality. The judge must sign a SIJS Predicate Order. This is a prerequisite for filing the SIJS petition with USCIS.
After the SIJS Predicate Order is signed, a petition can be filed with USCIS for SIJS status. This status alone does not grant any immigration status; rather it classifies a child as a “Special Immigrant Juvenile” which enables the child immediately to apply to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). If, however, the child is in removal proceedings with the Immigration Court, the proceedings must be terminated in order to apply for LPR status. If the child is not in removal proceedings, then both applications may be filed at the same time.
- Under the age of 21 and remain unmarried throughout the immigration process.
- A state juvenile court must find that the child is:
- Dependent on the court; or,
- Committed to the custody of a state agency or individual or entity.
- That reunification with one or both parents is not viable to due abuse, abandonment, or similar grounds under state law.
- It is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to his or her country of nationality.
- The child has not engaged in certain criminal conduct and meets other requirements for “admissibility.”
We have successfully helped children with both steps of the process- obtaining the proper juvenile court orders and submitting applications for SIJS and lawful permanent residency to USCIS. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing we have helped give a child a future bright with possibilities.
For further information or questions please call 703-596-0235 to schedule a consultation in our Alexandria, Virginia office. Our firm can help clients in Virginia, Maryland, and DC – or any other state – because immigration is a federal matter.
For further information or questions please schedule a consultation in our Alexandria, Virginia office.