Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is an immigration benefit that allows children who survived parental abuse or neglect in their home countries to become legal permanent residents (also known as a green card). This process can be complicated, and it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer for immigration services provided by SJIS.
A new virtual service center is now in operation to help chip away at USCIS’s backlog of SIJS cases. This will have a positive impact on the lives of child victims of abuse.
What is SIJS?
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a way for youth who survived abuse and neglect at the hands of their parents to become lawful permanent residents in the United States. It’s not to be confused with asylum, however, because while both involve allegations of harm done by a government, SIJS focuses on abuse and neglect by an individual’s own parent(s).
Once granted, children can use their SIJS petition to defend themselves against deportability or removability in immigration court and later apply for citizenship. It also waives several types of inadmissibility, including unlawful entry, working without authorization and being a public charge. A trusted immigration attorney can help you determine whether SIJS is a good option for you.
How does SIJS work?
Congress created SIJS to help young people in the United States who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents. To qualify for SIJS, a child must be in state custody and obtain a Special Findings order from a family or surrogate court.
SIJS grants children many benefits, including work authorization and lawful permanent residency. Children granted SIJS may also eventually apply for citizenship in the United States.
Our experienced immigration attorneys can assist with the entire SIJS process. We will start with the initial family or surrogate court case and then submit a SIJS petition to USCIS. Once approved, the priority date assigned by USCIS will determine when a child can apply for lawful permanent residence (green card). We will also defend them against deportation or removal proceedings.
What are the benefits of SIJS?
A young immigrant who has suffered abuse, neglect or abandonment from one or both parents may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. This process can help children become lawful permanent residents (LPR) and ultimately citizens of the United States.
Those with SIJS are not deportable and can work and travel freely in the US. However, they cannot petition for their parents to come to the US with them.
The benefits of SIJS include waivers for several types of inadmissibility, including unlawful entry, working without authorization and being a public charge. The young person can also apply to become a citizen of the United States, as long as they abide by the laws of the land. In addition, they can petition for their parents after becoming a citizen.
What are the requirements for SIJS?
While SIJS is a great way for children to obtain a green card, there are some limitations. Specifically, children who obtain a green card through SIJS cannot petition for their parents to immigrate to the United States.
In order to qualify for SIJS, a state court must find that the minor was abused or abandoned by one or both of their parents and that returning to their home country would be against their best interests. This finding can be made through a custody, guardianship, adoption or permanency hearing in foster care proceedings.
An experienced SIJS attorney can help with this process and ensure all paperwork is properly filled out. The legal work required can be complex and confusing, but it is crucial that all forms are filed correctly with USCIS.
How do I apply for SIJS?
The first step in applying for SIJS is to have a State court issue a Special Findings Order. The State court may make this order through a custody, neglect, adoption or guardianship proceeding. It is important that a family law attorney be involved from the very beginning, as it is possible that immigration issues can arise in any hearing.
Once the Special Findings Order is received, a petition can be submitted to USCIS for SIJS. A USCIS officer will review the petition and assign a priority date.
Once a priority date is assigned, the child can then apply for legal permanent residency (a green card). Unlike citizenship, this form of status does not allow children to petition for their parents. This is a very valuable option for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents.