After Juvenile Visa (SIJS) Approval: What Comes Next?

Sijs Approval

After obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) or a Juvenile Visa, it’s crucial to understand what steps follow in the immigration process. 

 

This article aims to address common questions and uncertainties regarding post-approval considerations. We will provide an overview of what to expect after your Juvenile Visa approval and guide you through the subsequent stages.

Understanding Juvenile Visa Specifics

 

Navigating the complexities of the Juvenile Visa process requires a comprehensive understanding of its specifics. Here, we delve into the key aspects of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and the role of the juvenile court in obtaining it.

what is special immigrant juvenile status?

 

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a classification available to foreign nationals in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. It provides a pathway to lawful permanent residency for eligible minors.

 

It was first defined in the Immigration Act of 1990, which amended the original Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The 1990 act effectively added provisions for this status together with its scope and how it should be managed.

 

Since then, SIJS has also been added to and expanded during the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

What Role Does the Juvenile Court Play in It?

 

The juvenile court plays a pivotal role in the SIJS approval process by determining the child’s eligibility for SIJS based on state-specific criteria. 

 

A court order declaring the child dependent on the court or appointing a guardian is a prerequisite for filing the SIJS petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 

The juvenile court is also responsible for determining that the child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both of their parents, that it is impossible for them to be reunited, and that it is unwise for them to return to their country of last habitual residence.

 

 

Juvenile Visa Approved: Next Steps

 

Once your Juvenile Visa is approved, several crucial steps follow to secure your immigration status in the United States. This section outlines the necessary actions to take post-approval.

From State Court Approval to Application Submission

 

After obtaining the necessary court order, the next step involves submitting Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) to USCIS along with Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).

Filing Form I-360 & Form I-485

 

Form I-360 establishes the petitioner’s eligibility for SIJS approval, while Form I-485 facilitates the adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or green card holder. You can submit these forms at the same time to speed up the process and reduce potential delays down the line.

Potential Challenges With USCIS Adjudication Times

 

While USCIS aims to process SIJS applications expeditiously, delays may occur due to various factors, such as workload fluctuations and administrative backlogs.

 

The USCIS currently has a severe backlog of applications as the number of SIJS applicants has dramatically increased since 2014. For example, in 2014, there were 5,776 applications, whereas in 2017, that number ballooned to 20,914. 

 

Essentially, they do not have the means to process that number of applications, resulting in a backlog. Ultimately, for you, this means that when looking at Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, the entire SIJS approval process could take 260+ days.

 

Sijs Visa

Navigating USCIS Decision Notification

 

Understanding how USCIS communicates its decision regarding your SIJS application is essential for managing expectations and planning your next steps.

How to Check the Progress of Your SIJS Application

 

You can track the status of your SIJS application online through the USCIS website using your receipt number. To complete a check online, do the following:

 

  1. Open the link provided above.
  2. Find the section headed “Check Case Status”.
  3. Enter your receipt number.
  4. Click the “Check Status” button.

 

If your case is delayed or you need further clarification, you can submit a case inquiry. This can be useful for finding out more information about the progression and what is happening.

How Does the USCIS Notify me of my SIJS Application Decision?

 

Once you get your SIJS approval from the USCIS, you will receive a decision notice by mail. This notice will indicate whether your petition has been approved or denied.

What to do if You Are Still in Removal Proceedings After I-360 Approval

 

If you are in removal proceedings at the time of your I-360 approval, you may need to file a motion to reopen or terminate the proceedings based on your changed immigration status. 

 

You can also seek to file Form I-485 and deferred action to make sure that your LPR status is confirmed first and that you do not have any risk of deportation. Your asylum attorney can guide you through this process should it occur.

Application for Permanent Resident Status

 

Securing permanent resident status is the ultimate goal for SIJS beneficiaries, granting you long-term stability and opportunities in the United States. Before you start your SIJS adjustment of status it’s essential you understand how LPR (Green Card) works, when you can apply for it, and the importance of remaining eligible.

How to Apply for LPR as an SIJ

 

Once your Form I-360 is approved, you can proceed with filing Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

 

There is a trick that many people are not aware of, too, though. Providing that you are eligible for SIJS, you can create a concurrent LPR application and file both Form I-360 and Form I-485 at the same time. This greatly expedites the process and can mean a shorter waiting period for SIJ and Green Card approval.

 

Form I-485 is incredibly important. You must ensure you complete it correctly, but submit the required documentation too, which includes:

 

  • Receipt of notice for your Form I-360 (If you are filing separately).
  • 2 photographs in a passport style.
  • Copy of a government-issued ID if available.
  • Copy of birth certificate.
  • Copy of your Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94).
  • Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record).

 

Depending on your circumstance, you may also have to submit evidence of criminal records, police records, and proof of any past non-immigrant statuses.

 

After form submission, you will receive Form I-797, a receipt notice – make sure you keep this as you can use it to track your case’s progression. You may then have to do the following:

 

  • Biometrics: If not already completed, you may need to attend a biometrics appointment where the USCIS takes your fingerprints and photographs. 
  • Request for Additional Evidence: Oftentimes if there are missing documents or more info is needed you may receive an RFE. Make sure you comply with the request promptly and with all the required info to avoid any delays.
  • USCIS Interview: Some applicants require a final USCIS interview but this can also be waived. It’s essential to bring updated information, additional evidence, and your original documents to the interview.

Understanding the Importance of Remaining Eligible for LPR

 

Maintaining eligibility for lawful permanent residency requires compliance with immigration laws and regulations, including avoiding criminal activities and fulfilling residency requirements.

 

The most important eligibility factor is maintaining a constant presence in the USA. If you must travel while your application is pending, you must only do so after obtaining authorization. This is done via Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document). 

 

Make sure you comply with the terms of this document – if you do not and try to leave or re-enter the U.S. without authorization, your application will be considered abandoned.

Legal Advice and Expert Assistance

Asylum Lawyer

Seeking legal advice and expert assistance from an asylum lawyer can significantly streamline the SIJS process and mitigate potential challenges along the way. We’ve listed the benefits of using an attorney asylum expert below together with the challenges you could face otherwise.

How an Asylum Attorney Can Help You Through the Process

 

An experienced immigration attorney specializing in SIJ cases can provide invaluable guidance, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and advocate for your rights throughout the process. Specific things they can do during your SIJS application include:

 

  • Determine initial SIJS eligibility: They can provide an initial consultation to determine if you have a valid case to obtain an SIJS visa.
  • Help to obtain court orders: They play a pivotal role in obtaining your court order from the Juvenile Court to start your application.
  • Assist in Form I-360 & Form I-485 completion: An asylum attorney can help complete these two forms and make sure you understand their contents and submit the relevant documentation.
  • Representation during interviews and hearings: If you have to attend any interviews or hearings, your legal representative can be present to provide support.
  • Overcome language barriers: If English is not your native language, asylum lawyers can often help with translation, such as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in Spanish.

The Challenges You May Face Without Legal Assistance

 

Navigating the immigration system without legal representation can be daunting and may result in errors or delays that jeopardize your immigration status. Particular challenges you could face without an asylum attorney can include:

 

  • Difficulties in obtaining the initial court order from the Juvenile Court.
  • Incorrectly completing Form I-360 and/or Form I-485.
  • Failing to submit the required documentation and evidence with the forms.
  • A lack of preparation and understanding for interviews and hearings.
  • Difficulties with the appeals process.

 

 

Santoskhourny Serves as a Trusted Resource for SIJS Applicants

 

At Santoskhourny, we are committed to assisting SIJS applicants at every stage of the SIJS process. Our team of experienced attorneys provides personalized guidance and support to help you achieve your immigration goals.

 

We have worked with countless applicants previously and have in-depth insight into how the system works and the common challenges you may face. With this knowledge, you can rest assured that your application will run as smoothly as possible and you are supported at every step.

SIJS Approval is Just the Starting Point of Your Journey

 

Obtaining Juvenile Visa approval marks a significant milestone in your immigration journey. By understanding the post-approval steps and seeking expert assistance when needed from an asylum attorney, you can navigate the process with confidence and achieve your goal of lawful permanent residency in the United States.

 

Remember that Form I-485 and securing a Green Card is the next most important step and that in the right circumstances, you can file this form at the same time as filing Form I-360. It’s also important you comply with the terms of your SIJS adjustment of status to remain eligible for a Green Card.

 

If you have any questions regarding the SIJS process or are considering starting your application, please contact Santoskhourny today. We are eager to help and want to create a better world for minors who have experienced trauma and are seeking security in the U.S.

FAQs

What is a Juvenile Visa?

 

A Juvenile Visa, also known as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), is a classification available to foreign nationals in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents under the age of 21.

What do I do after I’ve got my Juvenile Visa?

 

After obtaining your Juvenile Visa approval, you must file Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and comply with any additional requirements outlined by USCIS. Form I-485 can actually be filed at the same time as your initial Form I-360, too, to help speed up the process.

How will I get my approval notification from the USCIS?

 

USCIS will notify you of your Juvenile Visa application decision by mail. You can also track the progress of your application online through the USCIS website using your receipt number.

What’s the average waiting time for Juvenile Visa applications to be approved?

 

The processing time for Juvenile Visa applications varies depending on various factors, including USCIS workload and case complexity. It’s advisable to check the USCIS website for current processing times. The USCIS aims to adjudicate all applications within 180 days of filing, however, at the moment, this is not the case. Average waiting times are estimated to be around 263 days.

What is the minimum age requirement for SIJS applicants?

 

There is no minimum age requirement for SIJS applicants. However, the applicant must meet the eligibility criteria, including being unmarried and under the age of 21 at the time of filing the SIJS petition. Please bear in mind the SIJS age-out by state policy also. In some states like SIJS Massachusetts, you must file before turning 21, whereas in other states like Arizona, you must file before turning 18.

What happens if I’m still in removal proceedings and receive my I-360 approval?

 

If you receive approval for Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) while in removal proceedings, you may need to file a motion to reopen or terminate the proceedings based on your changed immigration status. It’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance on the appropriate course of action.

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