Who Is Eligible For SIJS?
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigrant classification accessible to undocumented immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents. A person can apply for this benefit if due to the abuse, abandonment, or neglect they can’t reunify and continue living with their parents. Additionally, in order to qualify for SIJS:
❏ The applicant needs to be currently living in the United States, even if the entry and stay in the country has been unlawful.
❏ The applicant must be unmarried.
❏ It is not in the applicant’s best interest to return to their home country.
❏ The applicant has sought help from the juvenile court to obtain relief from abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
❏ The individual has to be dependent on a juvenile state court.
❏ The applicant has a written consent from the Department of Health and Human Services, if in the HHS custody.
The following forms must be filed in order to qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status:
❏ Form I-360: used as a petition for special immigrants
❏ Evidence of one’s age: birth certificate, passport, or other official identification document
❏ Valid juvenile court order
❏ Written consent from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: needed if the applicant is in HHS custody
❏ Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative: used if the applicant has an attorney or accredited representative representing the applicant
USCIS usually makes a decision on SIJS petitions within 6 months from the official filing
Legal Permanent Residence
The main goal of the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is to allow undocumented immigrants under the age of 21 to obtain legal permanent residence in the United States through a Green Card. Thus, SIJS waives one’s unlawful entry and stay as well as working without authorization.
In order to apply for the permanent residence status, one must file Form I-485 requesting Adjustment of Status. That application for a Green Card can be filed together with the application for the SIJS if an immigrant visa is immediately available, generally from the EB-4 immigrant visa category. If an immigrant visa is not available, the applicant needs to wait for the SIJS to be approved. The processing time of Form I-485 takes approximately between 8 to 14 months.
After filing Form I-485, the USCIS will contact the applicant and ask them to have their fingerprints and photographs taken, to submit their vaccination and medical record, and to schedule an interview with an immigration services officer. If one is classified as an SIJ, that person will not be required to contact the family member who has abused, abandoned, or neglected them.