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Best SIJS Immigration attorneys

Get the Best Special immigrant juvenile attorney for your case

As SIJS Immigration Lawyers, we specialize in guiding minors through the intricate process of obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in the United States. Our expertise ensures that minors facing difficult circumstances find a pathway to lawful immigration status.

Below, we answer all your questions including what is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, its purpose, how it works, and eligibility criteria. The aim is to make you as informed as possible so you can consider your options and start the process in the best way possible.

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During your consultation you’ll meet with our SIJS green card attorney who will discuss the steps of your case, including, price, work permit and how long it will take

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Our SIJS attorneys help hundreds of people get their green cards every year. Our SIJS attorneys know exactly what to do to make sure you’re on the right path to success. Whether you are in court or out of legal status, our attorneys can help you.

An Introduction to SIJS

It’s important to have background information on the SIJS meaning, including why it was created, and its purpose. This should help you see if the process is suitable or applicable for you, and what you stand to gain from it for you or your child’s future.


Why Was SIJS Immigration Created?

SIJS was established to protect minors who have been subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and cannot be reunified with their parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. 

The original policy and law was created by the US Congress in 1990, was called the Special Immigrant Juvenile Statute, and has been adjusted since on various occasions, most notably the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

The Department of Homeland Security is the overriding agency responsible for the process, but it is overseen by USCIS SIJS which is a department within the DHS that deals exclusively with immigration.


What is the Purpose of the SIJS Process?

The primary purpose of the SIJS process is to safeguard vulnerable minors by granting them legal immigration status and the opportunity for permanent residency in the United States. 

Unfortunately, as you may be aware of or have experienced, oftentimes children become estranged from their parents through no fault of their own. They may also be subject to abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and the SIJS Green Card aims to protect minors against these things.


What are the SIJS Requirements?

To qualify for SIJS, minors must meet specific criteria, including demonstrating dependency on the juvenile court, being deemed eligible by the court for long-term foster care or guardianship, and proving that it is not in their best interest to return to their home country. A breakdown of the requirements include:

  • Under the age of 21 (SIJS age out by state can be 18 or 19 too).
  • Unmarried.
  • Declared a dependent by a Juvenile Court.
  • Prove that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to neglect, abandonment, or abuse.
  • Prove that it is not in your best interests to return to your home country.
  • Be currently living in the US.

The key processes that form the SIJS eligibility criteria are the Juvenile Court Order, the proof of abandonment, abuse, or neglect, and the inability to return to your home country. 

This is where an SIJS immigration lawyer helps as like asylum, the process is considered discretionary. For example, you don’t get automatic approval if you meet the criteria – a USCIS officer assesses your SIJS application and they use their discretion when making a decision.

Understanding Eligibility for SIJ Classification

Criteria for SIJS Eligibility

Eligibility for SIJS hinges on several factors, including age, dependency on the juvenile court, and inability to reunify with parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. It’s also possible to make a special immigrant juvenile status one parent request.

Age Out Policy Differences by State

State laws regarding the age at which a minor can petition for SIJS vary, and it’s crucial to understand these differences to ensure eligibility. You can check out our article on the SIJS age-out by state policies and find the relative information for the state you live in. For example, the SIJS Massachusetts age-out policy is 21 whereas in Arizona it’s 18.

Understanding State Juvenile Court Orders

When looking at what is SIJS, the first step in the process (after landing in the US) is obtaining a court order from the Juvenile Court.

Why State Juvenile Court Orders are Vital for the SIJS Process

State juvenile court orders serve as the foundation for SIJS petitions, demonstrating a minor’s eligibility and need for protection under U.S. immigration law. The exact court naming varies from state to state, but they must have jurisdiction to make judicial determinations about a juvenile’s dependency or custody.

What Role Does the Family Court Play in SIJS Cases?

Family courts play a pivotal role in SIJS cases by issuing orders that establish a minor’s dependency and eligibility for long-term foster care or guardianship. Without a court order, you cannot then submit Form I-360 and continue with your SIJS application.

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How to Petition for SIJ Classification (Form I-360)


Once you have the court order you can file Form I-360 (and Form I-485 which is your green card application which we detail in a separate section).

Overview of the Petition Process


The petition process involves completing and filing Form I-360 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and supporting documentation.

How to File Form I-360


Filing Form I-360 requires careful attention to detail, including accurately completing and submitting the form to the appropriate USCIS office. The USCIS provides instructions for completing Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant including where to file and the associated fees.

Necessary Documentation and Evidence to Include


Supporting documentation, such as state juvenile court orders and affidavits, is crucial to substantiate a minor’s eligibility for SIJS. The following documents are required:


  • Copy of passport or birth certificate for proof of identity.
  • If needed, provide proof of your relationship to the petitioner (for example a guardian submitting for a minor they care for).
  • Copy of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record to show proof of your immigration status.
  • Any evidence you can provide that shows the abuse, abandonment, or neglect you have suffered from one or both of your parents.
  • Court order establishing your eligibility for SIJS classification.

Deadline Considerations and Implications


Understanding deadlines for filing Form I-360 is essential, as missing deadlines can have significant implications for a minor’s immigration status and this is where the SIJS age-out policy comes into play.


Essentially, you must obtain the court order from the Juvenile Court before your age-out date and this varies by state. It varies from 18, 19, or 21, but some states have different rules too so you must be aware of the nuances and your SIJS immigration lawyer can help with this.

Consideration of Deferred Action

What is Deferred Action and How is it Relevant to SIJS?

Deferred action provides temporary relief from deportation and allows individuals to remain in the United States lawfully, making it a valuable consideration for SIJS recipients.

How Deferred Action Impacts Immigration Status and Legal Proceedings

Deferred action can impact a minor’s immigration status and legal proceedings, offering protection while awaiting adjudication of their SIJS petition.

Green Card Based on SIJ Classification (Form I-485)


The main benefit of SIJS is that you can immediately apply for a Green Card with Form I-485 and in some instances this can be filed at the same time you file Form I-360, thus making the process slightly faster.

How Does the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Green Card Application Process Work?


Once granted SIJS, minors can apply for lawful permanent residency by filing Form I-485 with USCIS. This form can be submitted at the same time as your initial SIJS application. 

Form I-485 Requirements and Submission Procedures


Applying for a green card through SIJS requires thorough documentation and adherence to USCIS submission procedures.


  • Correct filing location: Check the USCIS info page on where to file Form I-485 as this varies depending on your location and status classification.
  • Correct filing time: The law states that you cannot file Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category. In the case of SIJS, this includes concurrently with Form I-360, after your application has been approved, or while adjudication is pending. 
  • Paying the filing fee: If you are under 14 and filing at the same time as a parent application it costs $750.00. For any other condition, the fee is $1,140.00. You may also have to pay a biometrics appointment fee of $85.00.
  • Correct supporting evidence: The USCIS has a checklist you can use for the required initial evidence and we advise making a note of this. It includes things such as:
    • Two passport-style photos.
    • Copy of government-issued ID.
    • Copy of birth certificate.
    • Documentation of your immigrant category.

Post-Submission Considerations


After submitting Form I-485, minors must comply with any additional requests from USCIS and remain in compliance with immigration laws. It’s important that you are prompt with your communication, respond to any requests, and consult your SIJS immigration lawyer if needed.


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Understanding What Happens After You File for SIJS Status

Once you have applied for special immigrant juvenile status the work isn’t finished and additional steps must be taken. 

Immediately after you will be sent a Notice of Action from the USCIS which confirms your form filing together with the official filing date, and a receipt – make sure you keep these!


Next Steps After Filing for SIJS Classification

Following submission of the SIJS petition and receipt of the Notice of Action, minors should be prepared for potential interviews with USCIS and further requests for evidence. An interview is not always required and the need for one can depend on how detailed your application was and the evidence you provided to support your case.


Follow-Up Actions and Documentation Requirements

Continued communication with USCIS and adherence to documentation requirements are essential after filing for SIJS classification. It’s imperative that you respond to any communications promptly and with the exact information requests to prevent further delays and this is something your SIJS immigration lawyer can assist with.

If you submitted Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status) at the same time as Form I-360 the USCIS will also schedule an appointment date for a biometrics meeting where you have your fingerprints and photograph taken.

You will also be asked to submit Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record) if you haven’t already completed this with Form I-485. 

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Advantages and Disadvantages of SIJS

It’s important that you are under no illusions regarding the SIJS Visa and this includes understanding the advantages and disadvantages that are part of the application process.

Advantages of SIJS

SIJS offers minors protection from deportation, the opportunity for permanent residency, and access to essential benefits and services:

Disadvantages of SIJS

Challenges may arise during the SIJS process, including lengthy adjudication times, complex legal requirements, and potential barriers to reunification with family members:

What Are the Benefits of Applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

The most important benefit of applying for SIJS is obtaining lawful permanent resident status or a green card. Most people want a green card so they can legally live and work in the U.S. with the ability to travel freely. After five years of having your green card you will be able to apply for citizenship. Our SIJS green card attorney will tell you which option is best for you depending on your situation.

How Does SIJS Compare to Asylum?


SIJS differs from asylum in several key aspects, including eligibility criteria, application process, and benefits conferred upon approval.


Firstly, after SIJS approval you can immediately apply for a Green Card providing you meet the eligibility criteria. In contrast, once you have gained asylum status, you must wait one year before applying for LPR (Legal Permanent Residency) Status.


The age difference is also key – SIJS is specifically for minors – those under the age of 21, whereas you can apply for asylum from the age of 18. If you are under the age of 18 but not eligible for SIJS, you can be included as a derivative on your parent’s asylum application, or classified as an unaccompanied refugee minor.


For benefits, both SIJS holders and Asylee status holders can apply for work (Such as via the SIJS work permit) and have the potential to receive a variety of state benefits and support and these are something your SIJS immigration lawyer can advise on and help you obtain.

Why Choose Our Law Firm?

Knowledge & Experience

Our special immigrant juvenile attorneys know how to get the job done. We are passionate about assisting immigrant youth in the United States. If you are undocumented or without legal status and are under age 21 and live in either California, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Florida or Maryland we can help you. One of the most common immigration options for immigrant youth is special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), which is a pathway to a green card for immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents.

Free Consultations if you qualify for SIJS

We offer free consultations to people who qualify for SIJS. Who Is Eligible to Become a Permanent Resident Through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status? Anyone who is under age 21 and who has been abandoned, abused or neglected by at least one parent. If you aren't sure if you qualify, don't worry. Just book a free consultation with one of our best SIJS attorney California and we will let you know..


Our Best SIJS attorney Massachusetts are confident because we get our clients the results they need. We help young undocumented immigrants in the U.S. obtain green cards through the SIJS program. Rest assured, when you hire our law firm you won't need to worry about the process.

clear prices and payment plans

Our SIJS attorneys will tell you exactly how much it will cost so there are no surprises along the way. If you don't have all of the money up front, don't worry. We offer flexible payment plans so you can get to where you need to be without delay.


Guardianship by a legal resident or citizen is typically required for SIJS eligibility. However, it is not a legal requirement. Typically, state courts won’t inquire into the legal status of the guardian.

SIJS guardianship occurs when a minor can no longer be legally and/or physically cared for by one or both of their parents. Guardianship can be undertaken by an interested third party as part of the initial SIJS court findings.

Guardians must reside in the United States and be willing and able to provide for the minor’s care and welfare. However, the guardian doesn’t have to live with the applicant or give them financial aid.

No. Previously, guardians had to have a familial relationship with the minor, either through blood or a court-recognized relationship. However, a court ruling in 2014 overturned this and ruled that a familial relationship is not a requirement to seek guardianship.

Proof provided in the SIJS petition should clearly demonstrate the minor’s eligibility and need for protection under U.S. immigration law. You should be able to demonstrate the abandonment, abuse, or neglect to a reasonable degree of certainty – the more proof and evidence you provide, the greater your chances of a successful I-360 SIJS application.

Evidence supporting that it is not in a minor’s best interests to return to their home country or place of last habitual evidence may include medical records, school records, and affidavits from individuals familiar with the minor’s circumstances. For example, studies of the minor’s home country may also be used to show unstable conditions.

In cases where a biological parent seeks guardianship, they must demonstrate their ability to provide for the minor’s care and welfare. But yes, you can petition for SIJS guardianship as a biological parent.

Minors must be present in court for proceedings related to their SIJS petition unless waived by the court for good cause. This is because testimony from the minor is usually required as part of the court proceedings.