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IMMIGRANT CHILDREN JUSTICE: SPECIAL JUVENILE IMMIGRANT STATUS (SIJS)


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What is SIJS?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a federal law that helps certain undocumented children and youth in the state juvenile system obtain legal immigration status. SIJS is one of the most common immigration options for young immigrants and is a way to obtain legal permanent residence for immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents.


Eligibility for SIJS According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) site, a child may be eligible for SIJS if they meet all of the following legal requirements.

  • The candidate must be 21 years of age only at the time of filing the SIJS petition (Form I-360)

  • The candidate must be currently living in the United States at the time the SIJS petition is filed and at the time USCIS makes a decision on their petition. They cannot apply from outside the country to come to the United States on the SIJS classification.

  • The candidate must be single at the time the SIJS petition is filed and at the time USCIS makes a decision on their petition. This means that you: I have never been married; or They were previously married, but the marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death.

  • The candidate must have a valid juvenile court order issued by a United States state court at the time the SIJS petition is filed and at the time USCIS makes a decision on their petition. This order must show that the candidate It is dependent on the court, or is in the custody of a state agency or department or a person or entity designated by the court;

You cannot be reunited with one or both of your parents due to ANY of the following: Abuse, Abandonment, Negligence or a similar basis under state law;

  • And that it is not in your best interest to return to the country of nationality or last habitual residence of you or your parents.

  • The candidate must be eligible for USCIS consent at the time USCIS makes a decision on their petition.


Applying for SIJS There are two main stages to obtaining the SIJS. First, the candidate must participate in a proceeding in Family or Surrogate Court in the county where he resides. As part of this procedure, the minor must obtain a “special determination order” declaring the minor's eligibility for SIJS. Although guardianship is the most common way for Family Court to obtain jurisdiction over a minor, it is also possible to file a motion requesting the order through a custody, neglect, adoption, stay for children in foster care or Person hearing. in Need of Supervision (in English, Person in Need of Supervision, or PINS) procedure. The second stage, after receiving this order from the Family or Surrogate Court, the minor can apply for SIJS to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Advantages, disadvantages and limitations Benefits: Someone who receives SIJS will have a defense against deportation or removal. A SIJS recipient can also apply for legal permanent residence and eventually citizenship. When the applicant applies for lawful permanent residence, he can also apply for a work permit pending the approval of his residence application.


Disadvantages and Limitations: Children who obtain lawful permanent residence through an approved SIJS petition cannot acquire or apply for green cards for their parents. Although most legal permanent residents and citizens have the right to apply for lawful permanent residence for their parents, children who obtained their legal status through SIJS waive this right, regardless of which parent abused, abandoned, or neglected. USCIS also creates a limit for each type of visa it issues. Because of this, some SIJS applicants may have to wait years after receiving approval of the I-360 petition. This can cause stress for applicants whose priorities change with age.



How Mil Mujeres can help the SIJS application As with all immigration status processes, there is a lot of information about the SIJS application process that you should know. For more information and assistance on the possible consequences of filing a petition for SIJS, visit the “Contact” section on our website, call us at (202) 808 3311 or write to us at info@milmujeres.org.