Certain immigrant juveniles who are in the United States and who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent may be eligible for a form of immigration relief called Special Immigrant Juvenile status, or SIJS. The grant of SIJS allows the immigrant juvenile to then apply for lawful permanent residence, or a “green card”, if she is unmarried when she applies for a green card and when USCIS makes a decision on her “green card” application.
In order to qualify and apply for SIJS, the immigrant must meet certain specific requirements. First, the immigrant must be under 21 years of age when she applies for SIJS. Second, the immigrant must be living in the United States when she applies for SIJS and when USCIS makes a decision on her application. Third, the immigrant must be unmarried when she applies for SIJS and when USCIS makes a decision on her application. Fourth, the immigrant must obtain an order from a state juvenile court in the United States that expressly finds that the immigrant is a dependent of the court or state, the immigrant cannot be reunified with one or both parents because of abuse, abandonment, neglect or a similar basis under state law, and it is not in the immigrant’s best interests to return to her country of nationality or country of residence of one or both of her parents. The juvenile court order must be valid when the immigrant applies for SIJS and when USCIS makes a decision on her application.
The SIJS application process is complicated as it involves two distinct areas of law, federal immigration law and state family law. As such, it is highly recommended that an immigrant wishing to apply for SIJS consult with an immigration attorney to determine the immigrant’s SIJS eligibility and the proper courses of action in the application process.
The attorneys of the Franco Law Group are experienced in handling SIJS applications and are available to assist you with your application.