Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) provides lawful permanent residency to children who are under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court and who will not be reunified with their parents due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.
What are the benefits of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?
- Allows the child to remain in the United States and eventually obtain lawful permanent residency (a "green card).
- Provides an employment authorization document that allows the child to work and serves as a government-issued identification card.
Who is eligible for SIJS?
A child who is under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court, where the court has found (a) that the child cannot be reunified with either parent because of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and (b) that it would not be in the child's best interest to be returned to the home country.
What are the requirements for SIJS?
- The juvenile court either must declare the child to be a court dependent or must legally commit the child to a state department or agency. This should include children in dependency proceedings, delinquency proceedings, and guardianship through a probate court.
- The SIJS application will include a special order signed by the juvenile court finding that the child is "deemed eligible for long-term foster care," because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Eligible for long-term foster care means that family reunification is not an option, and generally the child will be expected to remain in foster care until reaching the age of majority, unless the child is adopted or placed in a guardianship situation. The court's order, or a social worker's statement, must provide at least a brief reference to facts supporting the finding of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
- The juvenile court must find that it is not in the child's best interest to return to her/his country of origin. This can be proven through an interview with the child, a home study in the home country, or other evidence showing there is no known appropriate family in the home country.
- The child must be under 21 and unmarried. The child's age can be proven with a birth certificate, passport, official foreign identity document issued by a foreign government. The child can be a parent.
- The child must remain under juvenile court jurisdiction until the immigration application is finally decided and the child receives the green card. This is important to keep in mind because the immigration interview may not be scheduled until three months to three years, or even longer, after the SIJS application is filed, depending on the local immigration office backlog and complexity of the case.