U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operates the Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ) program, which is designed to protect and help foreign children present in the U.S. who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. If USCIS is unable to reunite these children with a parent, the SIJ program allows them to get green cards, which, in turn, enables them to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. The only limitations on a green card that a child receives through the SIJ program are that the child never can file a petition for a green card on behalf of his or her parents, and never on behalf of his or her siblings, unless and until he or she becomes a U.S. citizen. In order to qualify for the SIJ program, a child must obtain a court order from a judge who has the authority under state law to make decisions about the custody and care of children. The court order must contain the following findings: • The child is a dependent of the court or should be placed in with a state or private agency or person. • It is not in the child’s best interests to return to his or her home country. • The child cannot be reunited with a parent due to abuse, abandonment, neglect, or another similar reason under state law. Furthermore, a child must be under the age of 21 at the time of filing for SIJ status. The state court order described above must be in effect at the time of the filing of the petition and when USCIS considers the petition, unless the child has aged out of the court’s jurisdiction due to no fault of his or her own. The child also cannot be married at the time of the filing of the petition and when USCIS considers the petition. Finally, the child must be inside the U.S. at the time of the filing of the petition. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we are actively watching the new administration’s policies regarding deportation as they continue to develop, as well as the continued use of the SIJ program. Whether the administration continues its current crackdown or not, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of detained noncitizens and working toward their release from detention. We know how to evaluate your case, explore your options, and provide you with the strongest defense against removal possible. Contact your California deportation defense attorneys today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.