Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status is an immigration classification that offers a legal pathway to permanent residency for children who have been subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment by one or both parents. This classification is meant to safeguard vulnerable children under U.S. law by allowing them to remain in the country and get the necessary care and support. This recognition acknowledges the unique difficulties these children face and offers them the potential to create a stable and secure future in the United States.

What Is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status provides certain foreign children in the U.S. who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents with a pathway to a green card. To qualify for SIJ status, a juvenile must be declared dependent on a juvenile court or legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, a state agency or department. This status not only protects the child by allowing them to stay in the U.S. but also enables them to eventually apply for permanent residency.

Eligibility Requirements for SIJ Status

To be eligible for SIJ status, applicants must meet several specific criteria:

  • Age Limit and Unmarried: The applicant must be under the age of 21 at the time of application and unmarried.
  • Juvenile Court Order: They must have a juvenile court order from a state court declaring that they are dependent on the court or legally committed to or placed under the custody of a state agency or department.
  • Reunification Not Viable: The court must also determine that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law.
  • Best Interests: It should be in the child’s best interest to not return to their home country or last habitual residence.

The Application Process for SIJ Status

The application process for SIJ status involves several critical steps. Initially, the child must obtain a state juvenile court order that meets the eligibility requirements for SIJ status. This includes determinations regarding dependency, the viability of reunification with parents, and the child’s best interests.

Once the court order is secured, the child or their representative must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition serves as the formal request for SIJ status and must include the necessary documentation, such as the juvenile court order and evidence of the child’s age.

After the I-360 petition is approved, if the child is in the United States, they may apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident by filing Form I-485. Throughout this process, precise documentation and adherence to procedural timelines are crucial for success.

Common Challenges and How We Can Help

Applicants for SIJ status often face several common challenges. One of the primary hurdles is obtaining the necessary juvenile court order, which requires precise legal language and clear evidence of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Additionally, coordinating between state courts and federal immigration authorities can be daunting. Delays in processing times are also frequent, prolonging the uncertainty and stress for the applicants.

The attorneys at the Rahimi Law Firm guide clients through these challenges. We ensure that all legal documents are carefully prepared and submitted, help gather and present the required evidence, and provide consistent updates and support throughout the case. By managing these legal complexities, we aim to streamline the process and reduce our clients’ stress.

Contact an Experienced New York SIJ Attorney

At the Rahimi Law Firm, we provide comprehensive support for children seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to guiding you through each step of the process, from obtaining the necessary court orders to filing your immigration petitions. If you or someone you know needs assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help secure a brighter future.