Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, otherwise referred to as “SIJS,” is a special form of relief that has been codified in United States federal law in the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) § 101(a)(27)(J). This form of relief is often use by unaccompanied minor children who enter the United States and cannot be reunified with one or both of their parents because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.Eligibility
A child can apply and possibly obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status if:
- The child has been declared dependent by a juvenile court in the United States or who has been placed by such court in the custody of a state agency or other individual or entity;
- The child must not be able to reunified with or both of his or her parents due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under the state law that the child is applying in;
- It is not in the best interest for the child to be returned to their home county or country of last residence;
- The child has not engaged in certain forms of criminal conduct (if the child has a criminal record they may be able to apply for a waiver to forgive those crimes); and
- For Texas cases, the child must be under 18 years old.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status can be granted even if the child is living with one parent.Procedure
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases require a lot of work because the child will be placed into two courts: family court and immigration court.
The family court judge will have to make certain findings of eligibility before the child will be able to file their Special Immigrant Juvenile Status application. These findings include that the child is unable to return to their home country or country of last residence because reunification with one or both of their parents is not viable to due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect. These findings are made in family court because traditionally family courts are best equipped to make decisions for the best interests of a child. A family court will not grant a child lawful immigration status in the United States. The immigration judge and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services are the only ones who can grant the child lawful immigration status in the United States.
Once the order of the family court is approved, the child will then be able to petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and proceed with their case. Eventually, if the child is successful, he or she will receive permanent residency in the United States and will be given a green card.
Whether the child will go through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or see an immigration judge will depend on whether or not the child is in federal custody.Benefits
If a child is granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status the child enjoys all of the benefits of having permanent residency in the United States, including:
- Access to financial aid programs for higher education;
- Can apply for United States citizenship 5 years after being a permanent resident; and
- Work legally
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases can be difficult to win without an experienced attorney by your side. These cases involve both family law and immigration law components so it is essential to have someone explain to you both sides of the process. It is also important to remember that this form of relief will expire if the child turns 18 years old so it is crucial to act fast and schedule a consultation if you know of anyone who may be eligible for this law.
You need and deserve a law firm and an attorney who will stand by your side through the Special Immigrant Juvenile process and defend you to the end. We want to have the honor of representing you. Please contact The Law Office of Armand Jawanmardi for a consultation on what you can expect when applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and what we can do for you at (713) 999-9115. We are always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions.