What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), is a pathway to citizenship for certain minors who are in the United States. Many juveniles enter the United States either with or without their parents with the hopes of a better life or at the very least with the hopes of leaving behind past hardships. If a juvenile is granted SIJS, then they can get Green Card, be eligible to work, have a valid social security number, and eventually apply to become a citizen.

What are the requirements for SIJS?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS, has many requirements for a person to be granted SIJS.

  • Be under the age of 21 at the time of filing an application with USCIS
  • Be physically present inside the United States
  • Be unmarried or if you were married, the marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death
  • Have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the United States that meet certain criteria

What are the criteria for a state court order?

In general, a juvenile has to show that they were abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. A person will have to show that reunification with the parents is not possible and that it would not be in the best interest of the juvenile to return to their last country of residence or nationality. Some states define juveniles as a person under the age of 18, whereas a few states consider a juvenile as a person who is under the age of 21.

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Photo by Ahmed akacha: https://www.pexels.com/photo/unrecognizable-child-walking-in-tent-4959223/

What happens after a juvenile receives a state court order?

Once a person has a state court order that meets the abovementioned criteria, the juvenile must file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant with USCIS. They will have to provide a copy of their ID, birth certificate, all relevant state court documents, and other documents supporting the application for SIJS.

A juvenile may also file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time when they file their I-360 if the visa is available for them based on their country of origin. The visa availability is found on the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin under employment based preference category EB-4.

It is important that the juvenile or their family/friends who want to help contact an experienced immigration attorney who can guide them through the process of obtaining a state court order and applying for SIJS.

Have more questions about SIJS or any other immigration matters?

Our attorneys at Elmore & Peterson Law Firm have the knowledge and experience to advise you on what options are available for your case. You can contact us at our website or schedule an appointment online with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

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