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The Best SIJS Attorney discusses what is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a unique form of immigration relief that provides undocumented children in the United States with an opportunity to obtain legal status.

However, before applying for SIJS, it is crucial to have a state court predicate order that confirms the child’s eligibility.

In California, the process involves obtaining three specific findings from the state court.

This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of SIJS and the importance of having the best SIJS attorney in California to navigate through the complexities of the process.

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I. The Role of State Court Predicate Orders

Before a child can apply for SIJS, a state court must make three specific findings, commonly referred to as the “state court predicate order.”

These findings include:

#1 Declaration of dependency or legal commitment to a state agency or individual appointed by a court.

#2 Determination that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment, or similar grounds under state law.

#3 Decision that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to their country of nationality or last habitual residence.

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II. The Importance of a Well-Crafted State Court Predicate Order

To increase the chances of USCIS approving the SIJS application, it is essential to include a short statement of the factual basis for each finding in the state court predicate order.

USCIS relies on the expertise of the juvenile court in making child welfare decisions, but they require a reasonable factual basis for each finding to exercise the statutorily mandated DHS consent function.

There should always be a summary of the facts and relevant citations to state law provisions is recommended.

The best SIJS attorneys have experience in knowing what language USCIS likes in the state predicate order. 

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III. What Should be Included in the State Court Predicate Order?

In California, a uniform Judicial Council Form (FL-357/GC-224/JV-357) is available for SIJS findings made in various state courts.

This form includes the required three findings and allows space to provide information about the facts supporting each finding.

The best SIJS attorneys use this space to present a concise summary of the clients facts and cite the applicable state law provisions.

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IV. Establishing the Factual Basis in the Predicate Order

While USCIS does not require overly detailed information, they expect the state court to have made an informed decision. Including two to four sentences supporting each of the three required findings is generally sufficient.

Additionally, citing the state law code sections that support the findings is recommended.

Balancing the need for information with confidentiality concerns, the best SIJS attorneys should provide enough details to demonstrate the court’s informed decision without compromising sensitive information.


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V. California Law Provisions Supporting SIJS Findings

In California, state courts rely on definitions of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and similar bases under state law to determine a child’s eligibility for SIJS.

The following definitions, along with case law interpretations, can be relied upon when seeking SIJS findings:

Abuse: Non-accidental physical harm, sexual abuse, acts of cruelty, domestic violence, criminal child abuse, etc.

Neglect: Conduct resulting in serious emotional damage, harm due to failure to supervise or protect, neglect/cruel treatment, criminal child neglect, etc.

Abandonment: Child left without provision for support, abandonment by one parent with failure to provide support or communication, criminal child abandonment, etc.

Similar basis under state law: Death, detrimental placement with a parent, inability to protect, emerging arguments, etc.

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VI. Hiring the Best SIJS Immigration Attorney in California

Navigating the SIJS process can be complex, and having the best SIJS attorney in California can significantly improve your chances of success.

The best SIJS attorney will have in-depth knowledge of the requirements, court procedures, and relevant state laws.

Our SIJS attorneys can guide you through the process, help craft a strong state court predicate order, and ensure that your SIJS application stands the best chance of approval.

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