I’m a minor and an immigrant. Can I request a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?
Certain undocumented minors may have an important immigration benefit available to them. Many could qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). This is one of the many humanitarian-based benefits available to them, and which allows them to remain in the United States lawfully, get a work permit, and eventually apply for a green card.
How can I qualify?
- Be under 21 years of age at the time you file your petition with the government
- Be currently living in the United States
- Be unmarried, meaning that you have never been married or if you have, that the marriage ended
- Have a court order issued by a state court that finds that:
- You are in the custody of an individual or entitled appointed by the court, or you are dependent on the court, or under the custody or a state agency
- You cannot be reunified with one or both your parents because of:
- Abuse, or
- Abandonment, or
- Neglect, or
- A similar basis.
- And that it is not in your best interest to return to your country of origin.
The first step in many of these cases involves a state court, often family court, where a judge issues an order granting custody of the minor to one of the minor’s parents or a guardian. As part of this part of the process, the judge needs to make the determinations mentioned above.
Many qualifying applicants feel concerned because they don’t wish to bring up the abuse, abandonment, or neglect they suffered at the hands of their parents or parents. However, it is important to note that generally this process involves only family court and criminal charges are not filed against the parent or parents.
Once the process in state court is finalized, the minor should be able to file a petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Even if the minor is in removal proceedings or entered the country unlawfully, they can pursue this benefit. Once their petition is approved and there is a visa available, they can apply to obtain a green card.
El Centro has assisted countless immigrant minors in these processes. If you feel that you or someone you know could qualify for this benefit, please call us at 908-753-8730 to schedule a consultation. We would be happy to answer your questions!
Please note that nothing on this blog should be considered legal advice. Each case is different and must be evaluated on its own merits.