SIJS – Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

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This is an immigration classification that can be granted to undocumented immigrant children who are under the age of 21 and have been abandoned, neglected or abused by one of their parents, or by both parents, but a court order has to be issued by a family court, determining custody of the child before he/she reaches the age of 18. If the SIJS application is granted, this will carve the way for the child to obtain a green card.

Why do I need a court order?

Although Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigration classification, a state court order is needed, not to make an immigration determination on the case, but to determine custody of the child, which is important because the order will help prove the following:

  • The child custody has been awarded to a guardian, one of the parents, or an agency;
  • The child cannot be reunited with one of the parents, or both parents, due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment;
  • It is not in the child’s best interest to return to his country of origin;

How do I get a SIJS?

Once all the requirements are met to qualify for SIJS, the child has to file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), after the application is filed, then it would be, either approved, denied, or a request for evidence may be issued if USCIS needs more evidence before making a decision on the case.

What happens after my application is approved?

After your application is approved, the path to be able to apply for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident in the United States is carved out. Unfortunately, there are more applications for this immigration classifications than visas available in this category. You have to wait until the priority date of the application becomes current, and there is a visa available for you to apply to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

What happens with my immigration case if I get SIJS?

Your immigration case does not automatically go away once you get SIJS, the approval of SIJS gives you a path to obtaining a lawful permanent residence card, so this application will allow you to show the immigration judge that you have a way to legalizing your status once you are able to apply for your green card, but your adjustment of status application will have to be done in immigration court.