Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status is an immigration category available to certain immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents. SIJS status allows juvenile immigrants to apply for and obtain legal permanent residence in the U.S.
The specific requirements for a child to qualify for SIJ status are:
1. The juvenile or applicant must be under 21 years old at the time form I-360 is filed; AND
2. The juvenile or applicant must be unmarried (meaning never married or the applicant must have been in a marriage that ended in divorce, annulment or death of the spouse); AND
3. The juvenile or applicant must obtain a predicate order in state juvenile court; AND
4. Reunification with one or both of the child’s parents must no longer be a viable option due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law; AND
5. It is not in the best interests of the applicant to return to his/her country of nationality or last habitual residence.
There are many benefits to obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile status. SIJ status waives several types of inadmissibility that would otherwise prevent an immigrant from becoming a lawful permanent resident or getting a green card. For example, SIJ status waives unlawful entry, working without authorization, status as a public charge, and certain immigration violations. Once the minor applicant receives SIJ status, he/she will be able to adjust his/her status to that of a lawful permanent resident, obtain work authorization, and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.
There are two main stages in obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile status. First, the minor must engage in a proceeding in state court in the county where he/she resides, (i.e., custody, adoption, or guardianship). As part of this proceeding, the minor must obtain a “special findings order” also called in some jurisdictions a “predicate order” that declares the applicant’s eligibility for SIJ status. Although guardianship is the most common way for state courts to obtain jurisdiction over a minor, it is also possible to bring a motion requesting the order through a custody, neglect, adoption, permanency hearing for children in foster care, or PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) proceeding. However it is done, receipt of this order is a prerequisite to applying for SIJ status.
The second stage, after receiving this order from the Family or Surrogate’s Court, the minor may then apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for SIJ status.
The third and final stage is requesting U.S. Citizenship after five years as a legal permanent resident.
If you believe you qualify or know someone who qualifies for SIJ status, give us a call at 385-334-4030 or schedule a consultation online today at https://www.skvlegal.com/book-online. Our immigration attorneys are ready to help you understand what you need to do and walk you thoroughly through the process from start to finish.