What is SIJS?
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a form of aid available to at risk foreign children in the US under the age of 21 who cannot be reunited with one or both of their parents because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. It removes the risk of deportation from the US and provides a route to a green card (permanent resident status). These children might be in local welfare systems (foster care), US custody, or a state agency (including adoption or guardianship).
The SIJS Process and Green Card Requirements
The process of getting a green card for an immigrant juvenile is complex and involves several multifaceted steps, two court systems and detailed supporting documentation. First, a local juvenile or family court system has to determine facts about whether the child has been neglected, abused or abandoned. Next, the child (or an adult on their behalf) must apply for an SIJS visa and prove that the child needs protection. When the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is given, the child can then apply for a green card.
A detailed juvenile court order with specific factual findings must be obtained before the child ages out of the state court system (usually by age 18), but age 21 in some states. Therefore, an experienced lawyer is advised to navigate the requirements and risks involved.
Noncitizen children applying for SIJS should be screened to uncover any potential risks that exist that might caution against such an application (i.e. arrests, mental health, communicable diseases). Likewise, if an application is denied, Homeland Security will be alerted to the child’s unlawful status in the US. For these reasons, an attorney who understands and can advocate for waivers on certain issues, answer any questions that arise, and comprehend requirements for SIJS is recommended.
How I Help Clients with SIJS
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) requires a court order and several complex steps, including an interview with the USCIS. It must be done in a timely manner before a child turns 18.
As an Immigration attorney and SIJS lawyer, I help clients carefully evaluate their eligibility for SIJS, and guide them through these steps answering questions about supporting documentation and assisting them with completing the required SIJS forms. I am diligent in checking for completeness and accuracy of each application. If you are in need of affordable representation to help a child with SIJS, please call my office to schedule an appointment.