What Is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status And Who Qualifies For It?

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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigration classification available to undocumented immigrant children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents. Special Juvenile Immigrant Status is one of the fastest ways for these young people to obtain a green card in the United States.

It’s a complicated process, which is why we recommend calling an experienced immigration attorney. Keep reading to learn more about Special Juvenile Immigrant Status.

Who can apply for Special Juvenile Immigrant Status?

The juvenile court has jurisdiction to determine the custody and care of minors. Generally, juvenile courts are the ones that issue orders based on whether the youth has been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents.

Although state courts provide these types of protections, they do not have the authority to enforce Immigration and Nationality laws. USCIS is the body in charge of granting or denying Special Juvenile Immigrant Status and, subsequently, lawful permanent resident status and obtaining a green card.

To be eligible, you must meet the requirements of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. The eligibility criteria are:

  • The applicant must be a minor, that is, under 21 years of age when applying for Special Juvenile Immigrant Status.
  • You must live in the United States. There is no possibility of submitting the application by a third party or submitting the application from abroad. Therefore, you must live in the United States from filing until USCIS makes the decision.
  • Applicants must be single. This means that to be a beneficiary of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, you have never been married and won’t do so until the USCIS decides.
  • You must have an order from Juvenile Court or Family Court. It must be determined that you are in the custody of a state agency, department, or court-appointed person. This requirement is essential because you cannot meet with either of your parents during the process.
  • The minor shouldn’t return to his country or last habitual residence while it is in process.

Due to the process’s complexity, Giovanni Díaz, an experienced immigration attorney and partner at Diaz & Gaeta Law, can assist you while submitting his application. You can obtain many benefits, such as authorization to work (with a green card) or applying for citizenship. However, there are several stages you must go through to get Special Juvenile Immigrant Status.

Stages of the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status application process

If you are a minor in the United States, you need the protection of a juvenile court. If you are applying to obtain Special Juvenile Immigrant Status, there are two stages that you must complete.
In the first stage, undocumented immigrant children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents must obtain a particular determination order stating that they are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and participate in the proceeding that follows. It takes place in the Family Court of the county where you reside.

In the second stage, after receiving this order from the Family Court, you must go to your lawyer to help you apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status to USCIS. Suppose you have ever been arrested or have committed a crime in the United States. In that case, it is essential to discuss it with your lawyer to establish the appropriate strategies, so you don’t waste time on your application.

Advantages and disadvantages of Special Juvenile Immigrant Status

Like all legal processes, there are advantages and disadvantages to Special Juvenile Immigrant Status. Here are some of the pros and cons of this immigration classification.

Advantages for beneficiaries

  • You don’t need to have entered the US legally to apply for this benefit.
  • You don’t need to prove you have financial support to reside in the country.
  • Solid defense against any deportation proceedings.
  • Application to obtain a green card and, later, citizenship.
  • Total exemption from your green card application fee.
  • Opt for a work permit while waiting for a response from USCIS on your legal permanent residence.

Disadvantages for beneficiaries

  • You cannot file an immigration petition for your parents (parents, adoptive, or guardians) during the process or after obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status because they are the offenders of abandonment, abuse, or neglect.
  • The issuance of this type of benefit is limited.
  • While you are submitting your application for legal permanent residence, you will not be able to work, regardless of the petitioner’s age or economic and social situation.

If you are applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, call Diaz & Gaeta Law. During your free consultation, we will analyze your request to ensure you avoid errors that may result in a denial of your application.