What is the SIJS Approval Rate 2024?

Sijs Approval Rate 2024
sijs approval rate 2024

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status aims to protect those under the age of 21 who have been neglected, abandoned, or abused by one or both of their parents. It is an incredibly important process, but due to issues with the US immigration system and a huge backlog due to a surge of applicants, receiving approval can take a long time.

 

Because of this, many parents and minors often wonder what is the SIJS approval rate in 2024? To give a quick summary, approval rates have consistently been between 90-95%, which is promising. However, as you will see below, the approval rates aren’t the problem, and the issue lies with the USCIS being overwhelmed and unable to process all applications in a fiscal year.

Current and Historical Data on SIJS Approval Rates


Let’s get right into the question and look at the SIJS approval rate 2024. Currently, it is believed the average hovers between 90-95%, which is incredibly high and shows the quality of the US immigration services. This figure has dropped in some years, for example, in 2018, it was much lower at around 75%, but recently, the approval rate remains high.

 

Other important stats and figures to bear in mind include:

 

  • Since 2010, 70,00+ people have applied for SIJS.
  • A significant surge in applications was seen from 2015 onwards.
  • This resulted in a severe SIJS backlog.
  • Adjudication rates have continually dropped since 2011 due to the backlog.
  • The average approval rate for SIJS hovers around 90%.

 

From these figures and information, we can see that approval rates are not the issue. The problem is the huge backlog of immigration applications the USCIS has to wade through. Consider that historically, until 2015, there were never more than 10,000 SIJS immigration applications per year. From 2015 to 2016, the figure nearly doubled, and the USCIS was unable to react quickly enough to cope.

 

Since that point, the backlog remains and application rates remain high, which means SIJS adjudication numbers per year continue to fall (i.e. many applications are simply held in an unknown status without a decision made either way due to the backlog).

 

Year Applications Approved Denied Awaiting Decision Adjudications Approval Rate
2010 1646 1590 97 35 1687 94.25%
2011 2226 1869 84 47 1953 95.69%
2012 2968 2726 119 220 2845 95.81%
2013 3994 3431 190 702 3621 94.75%
2014 5776 4606 247 1826 4853 94.91%
2015 11500 8739 412 4357 9151 95.49%
2016 19475 15101 594 8533 15695 96.21%
2017 20914 11335 890 18788 12225 92.65%

 

This table gives you a clear overview of the trends relating to SIJS which includes a consistent approval rate of 90%+, a severe rise in the number of applications, and a severe drop in the number of applications adjudicated per year.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
special immigrant juvenile status

Background of SIJS


The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status green card is a form of humanitarian immigration relief aimed at undocumented children in the US. Its primary purpose is to give undocumented children the opportunity to legally obtain permanent residency in the United States and protect them from further abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

 

SIJS was signed into law by George H. W. Bush as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. This was an overhaul of the previous Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and aimed to increase the total amount of immigrants allowed to enter the US per year, plus other issues including the creation of SIJS.

 

Provisions for SIJS were then furthered in 2008 via the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The US government essentially understood the need for this status and introduced it as a means to give better protection to vulnerable children trying to gain entry into the country.

 

The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) is responsible for the SIJS process, including processing applications, interviews, adjudication, and providing information to help people through the process. Indeed, you can find a wealth of info on their website, including checking the status of your case and all the required forms like Form I-360.

Eligibility Criteria for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status


Part of the complexity of this special immigrant status is due to the eligibility criteria. While most of the terms are straightforward, such as age and marital status, others are open to interpretation and require evidence. The current eligibility criteria include:

 

  • You can only apply for the special status if you are physically located in the US.
  • You are under the age of 21.
  • You cannot be married.
  • You must be declared a dependent in a Juvenile Court.
  • You must have been abandoned, neglected, or abused by one or both of your parents.
  • Reunification with the suspect parent (or both) must no longer be possible or advisable.
  • It must not be in your best interests to return to your home country or place of last habitual residence.


It’s important to note that the age limit varies by state. For example, in Texas and Montana, the limit is 18, whereas in Oregon, Nevada, and California, it is 21. This handy map shows the different age-out limits together with specific information for each state below.

 

The difficult part to understand is proving abandonment, abuse, or neglect by one or both of your parents, but this is also the most important factor. Building a watertight case and being able to provide evidence to show you are eligible is key, and this is something a guardian or attorney asylum specialist can help with.

SIJS Application Process


One shining light despite the lengthy processing times for SIJS is the application process. It may be difficult, and it’s advisable to seek the help of a qualified asylum lawyer, but it is something you can largely control. You can process your application quickly and make sure you attend the appointments and interviews to prevent unnecessary delays.

Be Declared a Dependent by a Juvenile Court

 

The first step after you have arrived in the US is obtaining a court order from a relevant Juvenile Court that declares you are a dependent. This relates to your dependency, inability to reunify with one or both of your parents and declaring that it is not in your best interests to live with one or both of your parents or return to your home country.

 

This court order is obtained from a Juvenile Court in the state where you reside. The abuse, neglect, or abandonment can be brought to the attention of the courts by – the police, a child welfare agency, your non-abusive parent, a family member, or a friend.

Sijs Immigration
sijs immigration

File Form I-360 – Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant

 

Once you have obtained the court order, you can file Form I-360. This must be done before you reach the age limit for SIJS in your state of residency. The Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant is a multi-stage form with the following parts:

 

  • Part 1: Information About Person Filing the Form
  • Part 2: Classification
  • Part 3: Information About for Whom the Form is Being Filed
  • Part 4: Processing Info
  • Part 5: Spouse and/or children info (not applicable for SIJS)
  • Part 6: Not Applicable
  • Part 7: Not Applicable
  • Part 8: Info Pertaining to SIJS
  • Part 9: Not Applicable
  • Part 10: Not Applicable
  • Part 11: Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Info, Declaration, and Signature
  • Part 12: Statement, Contact Info, Declaration, and Signature of the Petitioner
  • Part 13: Interpreter’s Contact Info, etc.
  • Part 14: Contact info etc of the person preparing this form if not the petitioner

 

As you can see, if someone else is preparing the form on your behalf they must provide their contact details and declaration too. An immigration asylum lawyer can guide you through the various stages of the form and ensure prompt submission.

Biometrics Appointment

 

If your details are not on file, you will have to attend a mandatory biometrics appointment. Here your fingerprints, photographs, and personal details are taken to perform background checks and for government records.

SIJS Interview

 

After the biometrics appointment, you may have to attend the SIJS interview. This is an incredibly important part of the process, and during it, a USCIS officer will quiz you about your application and case. You can have a legal representative present during this interview and an interpreter if needed. Make sure you prepare for the interview and know your case inside out.

Wait for a decision

 

After the interview, it’s a case of waiting for the decision, and as we have discussed, this can take a long time. During this period, you cannot be deported, and even if you go over the age limit for SIJS application, you can still apply for a Green Card after approval.

Benefits of Special Immigration Juvenile Status


You may wonder if the effort and long waiting periods are worth it, but they certainly are, especially if you are under a continual threat of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. SIJS allows you to break free from this cycle of punishment and forge a new life for yourself. It offers security, stability, and hope.


Specific benefits this status conveys include:

 

  • You are protected from being deported.
  • You can legally stay in the United States and obtain a Green Card for further benefits.
  • If successful, you can also apply for work authorization.
  • You may be able to apply for benefits, medical insurance, and education assistance.

 

First and foremost, while you are awaiting approval, and after you have been approved, you cannot be deported, which protects you from any persecution or harm you may have suffered in your habitual residency.

 

Secondly, and more importantly, it means you can legally stay in the US and eventually apply for a green card for lawful permanent residency, which unlocks a huge range of additional benefits. In the far future, you can then eventually apply for US Citizenship via naturalization (usually 5 years after obtaining your Green Card).

 

SIJS also confers the potential for work authorization, plus a range of other benefits so you can start your new life with confidence, continue your education, and stay healthy. Your asylum lawyer can help advise which benefits you are privy to.

SIJS Still Has Limitations and Presents Challenges


Although the benefits are numerous as you can see from the above, the process is not all plain sailing and there are a variety of obstacles and potential challenges to overcome.

 

  • The complexity of the process: As you can see, the process for special immigrant status has multiple steps and a range of complexities. This can be overwhelming and difficult to process even for an adult, so it’s understandable that children might find it difficult. This is why it’s important for any help from a parent or guardian, and legal counsel where appropriate.
  • Proving eligibility: As with asylum, SIJS applicants must prove their eligibility. In this case, you have to be able to show that you have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of your parents. This isn’t always easy to do and it can be traumatic too if you have to relive past events where you were harmed.
  • Adjudication backlog: The main challenge is the lengthy waiting period for adjudication from the USCIS. You may have completed your I-360 form in plenty of time and without any mistakes, but due to the USCIS backlog and the huge increase in applicants, it is not uncommon for a year or more to pass before receiving a decision. The only positive from this is that there is no age limit to apply for a green card as an SIJS holder. As long as you properly submit your application before the age limit in your state, you can still obtain a green card even if you are over the age limit when you apply for it. For example, if you submitted Form I-360 when you were 20, but didn’t receive approval until you were 22, you could still apply for a green card via Form I-485.
Sijs Requirements
sijs requirements

Approval Rates Remain High, While Abjudications Continue to Fall


We hope that you have gained valuable insight into the Special Juvenile Immigrant Status process and can understand the current limitations of this type of immigration. The approval rates remain high and this has been a constant since 2010 (despite one blip in 2018) with averages of 90-95% and higher. Therefore, it can be said that if you get an adjudication, you have an excellent chance of being approved.

 

However, that’s not the problem. The problem lies with the immense backlog of SIJS applications. Year after year, the number of applications has increased and the USICS hasn’t made much headway into it. This means that although the USCIS is meant to make a decision within 6 months of your application, the reality is that it can take a year or more.

 

With this in mind, it’s important to complete your application carefully, understand the SIJS requirements, and enlist the services of an asylum attorney to give you the best chance possible of a fast resolution.

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