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SIJS Requirements and Why You Need a Lawyer

SIJS requirements
sijs requirements

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a pathway for certain undocumented children in the United States to obtain lawful permanent residency. It’s designed to protect vulnerable minors who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by providing them with legal status and a pathway to citizenship.Β 


SIJS is a unique immigration benefit that involves collaboration between the state juvenile court system and the federal immigration authorities.Β 


Any type of asylum application can be daunting and complex, but the SIJS requirements make it especially tricky, and this is why assistance from an asylum lawyer is invaluable. In the below guide, we explain the premise of SIJS, and how an asylum attorney can give you the best chances of success to start your new life in the US.



Understanding SIJS Requirements


Let’s first take a look at SIJS requirements and eligibility, as you must ensure you meet the criteria and can apply for the status.

Age requirements


To be eligible for SIJS, you must be under the age of 21 at the time of filing the petition. This age limit emphasizes the protective nature of the program towards vulnerable children and youth.

Dependency on Juvenile Court Findings


A crucial aspect of SIJS is the dependency on the findings of a juvenile court. The court must determine that you are dependent on the court or have been legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, a state agency or department. This dependency finding and state order is fundamental to establishing eligibility for SIJS.

Best interest determination


SIJS petitions also require a determination that it is in your best interest to remain in the United States. This determination is typically made by the juvenile court judge, who considers various factors such as your ties to the community, familial relationships, and access to education and healthcare.

Special circumstances requirement


Additionally, you must demonstrate that you have experienced abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one or both parents. These special circumstances serve as the basis for the child’s eligibility for SIJS and must be documented adequately.

Complexity of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Cases


Navigating the SIJS process can be complex and daunting, especially if you do not fully understand the legal system or your rights.Β 


Additionally, SIJS cases involve coordination between state courts, federal immigration agencies, and legal counsel. The interplay between immigration law and family law adds another layer of complexity to these cases.


Furthermore, gathering the necessary evidence to support an SIJS petition can be challenging, particularly if you have experienced trauma or instability in your life. Legal representation from an asylum attorney is therefore crucial in ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the process and that all required documentation is properly prepared and submitted.

Role of Legal Representation in SIJS Cases


You must understand exactly what an asylum lawyer does during the SIJS immigration process and how they can help.

Expertise in Immigration Law and SIJS Regulations

The attorney is fully qualified and specializes in juvenile immigration. This means that they understand exactly what is required and what you must do to successfully apply. You get tailored and specialized assistance particular to your case from someone who has helped countless children obtain SIJS previously.

Guidance in Gathering Necessary Documentation and Evidence

Part of the SIJS requirements include gathering evidence and documentation to support your claim. A lawyer can make sure you provide the right documentation such as a passport and ID, and that you give enough evidence to build a strong asylum case.

Advocacy During Juvenile Court Proceedings

Oftentimes the process involves attending biometrics appointments and asylum interviews. These can be daunting for a child, but an asylum lawyer can be present during any legal proceedings. They prepare you for the interviews or court sessions, including telling you what to expect, and how to conduct yourself to make the right impression.


special immigrant juvenile status
special immigrant juvenile status


Assistance with Completing and Submitting SIJS Applications

Throughout this process, you have to complete a variety of forms, such as Form I-360. These forms can be tricky and they must be filled in correctly and on time. A lawyer can talk you through each section of the form and make sure you complete it perfectly. They can also explain anything you don’t understand, and help with filing the forms once completed.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for SIJS Immigration Cases

You should already be able to see the benefits an asylum attorney can provide for your SIJS immigration application, but to make it clear, they provide the following:


  • They maximize your chances of approval.
  • Delays and complications are minimized, which makes the process smoother.
  • The process is done in strict legal compliance with U.S. asylum regulations.
  • You gain access to additional resources and support.
  • There is less stress, hassle, and burden from your perspective.


In short, legal assistance ensures you have the best chances of success and that everything is done correctly the first time. Also, it minimizes your mental and physical strain during a time that is already likely to be difficult.


attorney asylum
attorney asylum


Risk fo DIY SIJS Applications

It is possible to complete SIJS immigration yourself. However, there are numerous risks to a DIY approach. You are navigating the process blindly and have no support or guidance.Β 


Even if you are confident in your approach, errors could arise such as incorrectly filling a petition, not providing enough supporting evidence, or making a lackluster case to the USCIS. An asylum lawyer ensures these errors are avoided and every step of the process is done correctly.

Finding the Right Lawyer for SIJS Cases

We hope you have a clearer understanding of SIJS requirements and the eligibility criteria for a successful application. As you can see, this is a multi-layered process that involves numerous steps, such as obtaining court orders and filing petitions.


We understand this can seem overwhelming for a juvenile, and you likely have little to no understanding of the US legal system, which is only natural. This demonstrates the need to hire an asylum attorney to help guide you through the process. An asylum lawyer can give you support, advice, and help with things like form filing.


It’s important that you choose the right legal counsel though to give you the best chance of success and so that your needs are met. Important factors to look for when choosing an asylum attorney include:


  • Relevant legal qualifications.
  • Expertise in US immigration law.
  • Testimonials from other SIJS applicants.
  • A history of quality work.


Social proof is key, and we advise doing a little research to find reviews and historical data relating to the lawyer’s work specifically in child immigration and special immigrant juvenile status proceedings. By doing this, you make sure you choose the right asylum lawyer who has your best interests at heart.


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