SIJS Age Out by State

Sijs Age Out By State
SIJS age out by state

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a type of immigration classification minors can obtain in the US. Eligibility includes being under the age of 21, being unmarried, having a court order from Juvenile Courts declaring you a dependent, and being able to show that one or both of your parents have abused, neglected, or abandoned you.

 

This is a complex process, and the adjudication times are slow due to a USCIS backlog. However, approval rates remain high at around 95%. Aside from the eligibility, you also must consider the age-out policy for SIJS and this is what we discuss below.

 

Understanding SIJS Age Out by State Cases


The SIJS age out by state is a policy that refers to the age you must be under to obtain a court order as the first step in your SIJS application. For example, in Arizona, you must have a court order issued before you turn 18.

 

The court order is issued by a Juvenile Court and states that:

 

  • You have been declared a dependent.
  • Reunification with one or both of your parents is no longer an option due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
  • It is not in your best interests to return to your home country or place of last habitual residence.

 

The age-out policy varies by state and can be 18, 19, or 21.

State-by-State Analysis of Age Out Policies


Now that you know the answer to the question, what is special immigrant Juvenile status and the ageout policy, we can take a deep dive into the variations by state. To make things easy, we have compiled a complete table below that shows the state, the age-out policy, and any important additional information.

 

A few points to note:

 

  • Predicate Order refers to the court order or SIJS findings that you must obtain before submitting your application.
  • This table is up to date at the time of writing this article, you can check the Project Lifeline website for additional links to state legal briefs and a visual map of the SIJS age out by state.

 

State Age Out Policy Additional Information
Alabama 19 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 19.
Alaska 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Arizona 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Arkansas 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
California 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Colorado 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Connecticut 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21. You must be dependent on a competent caregiver and give consent to continued guardianship after the age of 18.
Delaware 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
District of Columbia 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Florida 21 Predicate order petition and application must be filed before you turn 18.
Georgia 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Hawaii 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21. You must have shown grounds for SIJS (abuse, neglect, or abandonment) before you turn 18.
Idaho 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Indiana 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Illinois 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18. Guardianship ends at 18 but can be extended until you are 22.
Iowa 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Kansas 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Kentucky 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Louisiana 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Maine 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Maryland 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21. The abuse, neglect, or abandonment must have happened before you were 18.
SIJS Massachusetts 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Michigan 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Minnesota 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21 and you are classified as an “at-risk juvenile”. At-risk juveniles are classed as between 18-21 who are unmarried and have the grounds for SIJS.
Mississippi 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Missouri 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Montana 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Nebraska 19 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 19.
Nevada 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
New Hampshire 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
New Jersey 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21. If you are over the age of 18, you must give proof that you are not emancipated, are financially dependent, and are within a parental sphere of influence.
New Mexico 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
New York 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21. The parental abuse, neglect, or abandonment must have happened before you were 18.
North Carolina 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
North Dakota 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Ohio 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18. If you are legally deemed to be an “unruly child”, this extends until you are 21.
Oklahoma 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Oregon 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Pennsylvania 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Rhode Island 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
South Carolina 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
South Dakota 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Tennessee 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Texas 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Utah 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Vermont 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
Virginia 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 19. Individual courts can choose to extend jurisdiction until you reach 21.
Washington 21 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 21.
West Virginia 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Wisconsin 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.
Wyoming 18 Predicate order has to be issued before you turn 18.

 

States With More Favorable Age Out Policies


Out of the 50 US states, only 19 have a more favorable age-out policy of 21 – that’s only 38%, and it’s something we advocate for improvement. The following states currently have this age-out policy:

 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington D.C
  • Washington
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Florida

 

An age-out policy of 21 gives you more time to act. It also means that you have potentially matured more and can deal with the situation and application process easier. Just bear in mind that in some instances, although the age-out limit is 21, some states, like Maryland, stipulate that parental abuse has to have occurred before you were 18.

What Is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
what is special immigrant juvenile status

States With Stricter Age Out Policies


Unfortunately, the law still swings towards younger age-out policies, and a larger percentage of states set their age-out limit for SIJS at 18 or 19, which gives you less time to act. These states currently include:

 

  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island

 

An age-out limit of 18 or 19 gives you far less time to create a plan of action. You can’t exactly plan when a parent is going to abuse you or abandon you, as harsh as that sounds. 

 

In these situations, if you decide that SIJS is the right path to take and you are nearing the age-out limit, make sure you act fast. Obtaining the court order is imperative, and an asylum attorney can help with this and make sure you meet the deadline.

Legal Implications and Challenges


As you can see, the fact that there is no set age-out limit for SIJS eligibility makes the process complicated and adds an additional layer of research you must undertake, and this is where an asylum lawyer can assist. An asylum attorney has in-depth knowledge of the immigration process and will know the SIJS age-out by state parameters.

 

In terms of legal consequences, simply put, if you fail to file your application before your age-out date, you have no legal grounds to claim SIJS because you no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. You have effectively aged out of the Juvenile Legal System and fall under the jurisdiction of the full US Court system.

 

To make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to do as much planning and research as possible. We understand that the grounds for you seeking SIJS cannot always be predicted – you have no way of knowing if your parents are going to mistreat you. However, there are usually signs, and if you start to feel unsafe about your home position or one of your parents speaks to you about SIJS, it’s important to understand the SIJS Age Out by State requirements and plan.

 

Throughout all of this, the services of an attorney asylum specialist are valuable. They understand how this special status works and can help you complete your application in time before your age-out limit.

Sijs Eligibility
SIJS eligibility

Impact on SIJS Applicants and Families


Unlike asylum, SIJS has a finite timeline, and you and your family have to be aware of this. Failure to complete your application on time could mean that your chance for protection has gone. However, there are still other routes, such as applying for asylum.

 

There are some important notes relating to SIJS too that affect your family:

 

  • You cannot have any derivatives (other people included) on your SIJ application.
  • Once you have obtained your Green Card, you can petition for a qualifying family member via family-based immigration.
  • If you get approval and a Green Card you cannot give any of your immigration benefits to your natural parents or adopted parents.

 

As you can see, the potential upsides of SIJS are great, and you could potentially help your family secure asylum in the US too. This is why understanding the age-out limits is imperative so that you don’t miss the opportunity.

Addressing Misconceptions About Age Out in SIJS Cases


The SIJS adjustment of status is a multi-faceted process that requires time and effort to understand properly. The complexity of the SIJS visa process, including the SIJS Age Out by State, has thus created a wide range of misconceptions, including:

 

  • It’s not possible to get SIJS approval after the age of 18.
  • The SIJS process and age-out policy are the same across the US.
  • You can only get approval if your application is processed before you reach the age-out limit.

 

As you can see from the above SIJS age-out-by-state list, it’s clear that indeed in some states, you can get approval if you are over 18. There are currently more states that set the age-out limit at 18, but we hope this changes in the future.

 

Many people also falsely believe that the age-out policy is the same in every state. This isn’t true, and as with most laws and regulations, SIJS is subject to state variations. The SIJS application process is the same regardless of state, though, and you always have to complete Form I-360.

 

Lastly, many people believe that if your application isn’t processed before you reach your state’s age-out limit, you can’t get approval. This isn’t the case, and the USCIS clearly states:

 

“There is no age limit to apply for a Green Card as an SIJ. If you were under 21 on the date you properly filed your Form I-360, we will not deny your SIJ‑based Form I-485 based on your current age, even if you are older than 21 when you file your Form I-485 or when we adjudicate it.”

 

So, providing you file the form correctly before your age-out date, you can still get approval and apply for a Green Card.

 

Make Sure You Understand the SIJS Policy for Your State of Residence


We hope you understand the importance of knowing the SIJS age-out policy for your state. Failing to do so could have severe ramifications for your ability to apply. For example, if you do not obtain the court order in time, you may be ineligible for SIJS.

 

We continue to work for these laws to be changed and for all states to adopt an age-out policy of 21 as we are advocates of equal rights for everyone across the country. Until that happens, you have to remain vigilant, do your research, and make sure if you intend to apply for SIJS, that you do so in ample time. 

 

An asylum attorney can offer advice in this area, help you navigate state nuances in the proceedings, and give you the best chances for success.

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