Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) (also known as Special Immigrant Juveniles) is a special status for minors who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents.
Eligibility for SIJS
To qualify for SIJS, you must:
- Be under 21 at the time you file the SIJS petition;
- Live in the United States at the time you submit the petition, and at the time a decision is reached on your petition;
- Not be married (at the time the petition is filed and also at the time a decision is made on your application);
- If you were previously married, you must be divorced when the petition is filed.
- Have a juvenile court order, issued by a state court in the United States that has found:
- You are dependent upon the court, or in the custody of child services or an individual appointed by a court; and
- You cannot be reunified with one or both parents because of one of the following:
- Neglect, or
- A similar basis under state law, AND
- It is not in your best interest to return to your country of origin.
- Note that many courts only have jurisdiction over minors until they are 18 years old, which means that although you can file the SIJS petition until you are 21, in many instances you must obtain the juvenile court order before your 18th birthday.
The state court order is a prerequisite for applying for SIJS and MUST include all of the findings mentioned above.
What are the benefits of SIJS?
SIJS waives several grounds of inadmissibility that would otherwise preclude an individual from obtaining lawful permanent residency. A few of the grounds are unlawful entry, present without admission or parole, misrepresentation, including false claim to citizenship, unlawful presence, public charge, and working without authorization.
The single most significant benefit to obtaining SIJS is the ability to apply for one’s residency, based on the SIJS. One thing to note about SIJS is that when applying for residency SIJS applicants cannot include derivatives on their applications. Additionally, they cannot petition for their parents in the future, even once they become United States citizens.
Process for Applying for SIJS and Adjustment of Status
- Obtain a juvenile court order from a state court that has jurisdiction under state law to make findings about the custody and welfare of minors.
- File for SIJS with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using form I-360.
- Once your SIJS is approved, and your priority date is current, you may file for your lawful permanent residency through adjustment of status.
- Check the visa bulletin to see if your priority date is current. SIJS applicants will look to the ‘final action dates’ for the employment-based- 4th preference category, to determine when to apply for their green cards.
If you would like information about special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in SIJS cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!