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Guide to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status


If you are a juvenile living in the US and have been subject to abuse or have become separated from your parents, you may be able to apply for special immigrant juvenile status. This is a type of asylum and successful application allows the child permanent residency in the US and the ability to obtain a Green Card. In the below guide, we explain SIJS requirements, how it works, and the application process.

Special immigrant juvenile status

Understanding Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)


It’s important to understand the SIJS requirements, why it was created, and its purpose before dissecting the application process and benefits.

Definition and Legal Basis in the US


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a form of immigration relief available to undocumented immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents.Β 


This status is based on federal law and provides a pathway to lawful permanent residency in the United States for vulnerable children who have faced significant hardships in their home countries.

Purpose and Objectives of SIJS for Children in the US


The primary purpose of this process is to safeguard the welfare of immigrant children who have been subjected to abuse, abandonment, or neglect. By granting these children lawful permanent residency, SIJS aims to provide them with stability, protection, and opportunities for a better future.Β 


Additionally, it seeks to prevent the deportation of vulnerable children to potentially dangerous situations in their home countries. For example, where the child’s home country is in a state of war or faces persecution if returning.

Who Qualifies for SIJS?


To qualify for SIJS, an immigrant child must meet specific criteria established by federal law. Generally, the child must be under the age of 21 at the time of filing the SIJS petition and must have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the United States.Β 


The court order must declare the child’s dependency on the court or place the child under the custody of a suitable guardian due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one or both parents. SIJS requirements also state the child must also be unmarried and present in the US for their asylum application.

asylum lawyer

Eligibility Criteria for SIJS


To be eligible for special immigrant juvenile status you must meet specific criteria, including:


  • Under the age of 21.
  • Not married.
  • Undocumented and physically in the US.
  • Hurt by, or separated from one, or both of your parents.


The process also involves filing a petition with the USCIS and obtaining a court order from the Juvenile Court that confirms your dependency but we discuss these steps in greater detail below.

The Process of Obtaining SIJS


SIJS immigration involves a myriad of steps from filing the initial petition through to the final USCIS review and decision. It’s important to understand these steps so you can apply with confidence and have the best chances of success.

1. Filing a Petition with USCIS

The first step in obtaining SIJS is to file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition, known as Form I-360, must be submitted along with supporting documentation, including evidence of your age, immigration status, and dependency on the juvenile court due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect.Β 


The petitioner, typically a legal guardian or court-appointed custodian, must demonstrate that you meet all eligibility requirements for SIJS under federal law.

2. Obtaining Findings From Juvenile Court

In addition to filing the petition with USCIS, you must obtain specific findings from a state juvenile court affirming your dependency on the court or placement under the custody of a suitable guardian due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect.Β 


These findings, typically outlined in a court order or decree, serve as critical evidence of your eligibility for SIJS and must be submitted to USCIS as part of the application process.


asylum attorney
asylum attorney

3. Submitting Evidence and Documentation

Along with the petition and court findings, you must submit additional evidence and documentation to support your case.Β 


This may include sworn statements, affidavits, medical records, police reports, and other relevant documents corroborating your experience of abuse, abandonment, or neglect and your need for protection.Β 


It is essential to compile a comprehensive and compelling record of evidence to strengthen your petition and increase the likelihood of approval by USCIS.


4. USCIS Review and Decision

Once the SIJS petition and supporting documentation have been submitted, USCIS will review the case to determine whether you meet all eligibility requirements for SIJS.Β 


This review process typically involves a thorough examination of the petition, court findings, and supporting evidence, as well as background checks and interviews as needed. USCIS will then issue a decision on the SIJS petition, either approving or denying your application for special immigrant juvenile status.

Benefits of SIJS immigration


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status offers several significant benefits to eligible children, including:


  • Grant of lawful permanent residency (green card): Upon approval of the petition, the child becomes eligible for a green card, allowing them to live and work permanently in the United States.


  • Eligibility for federal benefits: Recipients may qualify for various federal benefits, including healthcare, education, and social services, providing them with essential support and resources.


  • Protection from deportation: Once granted SIJS, the child is protected from deportation and removal proceedings, ensuring their continued presence and safety in the United States.


It’s vital that you understand these benefits and your asylum lawyer can help determine which you are eligible for. By utilizing available benefits you can start your new life in the US on a level footing and have solid foundations to build upon for your future.

sijs immigration

Legal Assistance and Resources


Navigating the SIJS process can be complex, and immigrant children must seek legal assistance from a qualified asylum lawyer or accredited representative. Many organizations and legal clinics across the country offer pro bono or low-cost legal services to assist immigrant children with their asylum petitions.Β 


Additionally, numerous online resources provide valuable information and guidance on the SIJS application process, eligibility requirements, and legal rights. We have listed some useful links below as a starting point:


Start Your SIJS Application with Assitance From a Qualified Asylum Attorney


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status serves as a lifeline for undocumented immigrant children who have endured abuse, abandonment, or neglect. By providing a pathway to lawful permanent residency, it offers these vulnerable children the opportunity to rebuild their lives in a safe and supportive environment.Β 


If you believe you meet the SIJS requirements and want to start the application process but are unsure how to proceed, please get in touch. As qualified asylum lawyers, we have an innate understanding of the process and will do everything in our power to guide you through the process.



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