What You Need to Know About Special Immigrant Juvenile Status if You Are 18-21 Years Old

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a type of immigration protection for certain children and young adults in the United States. 


This status is especially important for those who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. 


The purpose of this blog post is to provide detailed information about SIJS eligibility and the SIJS application process for individuals aged 18-21. This is because there are additional considerations compared to if you are under the age of 18.


What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?


Look at what is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is crucial if you are seeking protection in the U.S. as a young immigrant and a path to legal residency in the U.S.

What is the SIJS Definition?


Concerning what is SIJS, it is an immigration classification that allows certain undocumented children and young adults in the U.S. to apply for a green card (permanent residency). 


This status is designed for those who cannot reunite with one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect. 


It is different from the standard asylum application for accompanied or unaccompanied minors. This is because you don’t need to prove persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

What is the Legal Basis and Framework for This Protection?


SIJS was created by the U.S. Congress and is governed by federal immigration law. The law provides a legal framework to protect vulnerable young immigrants. It allows them to apply for legal status if a state juvenile court has found that they cannot return to their parents because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.


The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 included the first SIJS meaning. It was later amended with additional definitions with the Immigration Act of 1990.

What are the Benefits of Obtaining This Protection?


Obtaining SIJS offers several asylum benefits. This includes the ability to apply for a green card, which can lead to U.S. citizenship. 


You are also protected from deportation and may be eligible for certain public benefits and services. During the application you may also be able to apply for work authorization.


What are the Eligibility Criterion for SIJS?

Sijs Age Out By State

Eligibility for SIJS depends on meeting specific requirements set by U.S. immigration laws and regulations. There are general requirements, but some additions if you are between the age of 18-21.

General SIJS Requirements


To be eligible for SIJS, you must be under 21 years old, unmarried, and have a juvenile court order that finds you cannot reunite with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Additionally, it must be determined that it is not in your best interest to return to your home country.

Specific Criteria for Those Aged 18-21


For those aged 18-21, you must still meet the general requirements. However, specific attention is given to the timing of the court order and the filing of immigration forms. Recent legal changes have clarified and expanded eligibility for this age group.


When looking at how to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a key factor if you are 18-21 is the age out by state policy. Different states have varying criteria for age limits and when the abuse, abandonment, or neglect must have occured. This handy database from Project Lifeline gives a state-by-state overview.


However, there are four key age groups for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Requirements. This concerns when you must submit your juvenile court order before:


  • Before 18
  • Before 19
  • Before 21
  • Before 21 (or 22 if jurisdiction established before 18)


The U.S. states fall into one of these four categories. But, some states have additional caveats. For example, in Hawaii, the age-out date is 21. However, you must have experienced abuse, abandonment, or neglect before you turned 18.


It’s important to understand the exact age out details for the state you live in before applying for SIJS or an SIJS work permit.


What are the Recent Changes in Eligibility for Those Aged 18 and Over?

Sijs Visa

Recent legal developments have significantly impacted the SIJS eligibility for applicants aged 18 and older.

March 2019 Federal Court Ruling in New York


In March 2019, a federal court in New York ruled that young adults aged 18-21 could qualify for SIJS. This ruling addressed previous limitations and clarified that state court findings could still be valid after turning 18.

Previous Denials From U.S. Government for Applicants Over 18


Before this ruling, many SIJS applications from individuals over 18 were denied. The U.S. government often argued that juvenile court jurisdiction ended at 18, making it difficult for older applicants to qualify.

How Eligibility Was Expanded Due to the Court Ruling


The court ruling expanded eligibility by confirming that juvenile courts could issue the necessary findings for SIJS even after the applicant turned 18. This change has opened the door for more young adults to apply for and receive SIJS protection.

What Happens if You Have Previous SIJS Applications?


If you have previously applied for SIJS, there are important steps and considerations to keep in mind.

Appointment of a Guardian by Family Court in NY After Turning 18


If you turn 18 and still need a guardian, the family court in New York can appoint one. This appointment can help in obtaining the necessary juvenile court order for your SIJS application.

Filing Form I-360 After Turning 18


You can still file Form I-360 SIJS, the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, after turning 18. The recent legal changes support the acceptance of these applications for those aged 18-21.

Why Consulting With an Immigration Attorney Can Help?


Navigating the SIJS process can be complex, and an immigration attorney can provide invaluable assistance.

They Offer Important Legal Advice if You Have Previously Been Denied


If your SIJS application was previously denied, an immigration attorney can review your case, help you understand the reasons for the denial, and advise on how to strengthen a new application. They understand the different paths you can take. They know how you can continue with your application and overcome initial disappointment.

They Can Assist With Other Challenges

If Your Application is Denied


An attorney can help you file an appeal or reapply with stronger evidence if your initial SIJS application is denied. They can also help you make a request to the USCIS that your case is reopened or for them to reconsider their decision.

If Your SIJS Status Has Been Revoked


If your SIJS status is revoked, an attorney can represent you in legal proceedings to contest the revocation. However, we first advice taking necessary steps to avoid this situation. 


Make sure you follow the conditions of your status and give the USCIS no reason to try ans revoke it. This includes things like informing them of address changes, and obtaining travel authorization before leaving the country.

If You Receive Notification From the USCIS of a Likely Denial


If you receive a notice from USCIS indicating a likely denial, an attorney can help you respond appropriately and provide additional evidence if necessary. It’s important to listen to their advice and act as quickly as possible.

When Attending USCIS Interviews and Hearings


An attorney can prepare you for the asylum interview and any hearings, ensuring you understand the process and present your case effectively. They will give you coaching on the interview so you know what questions may be asked. You’ll also receive advice on how to dress and conduct yourself, and things like the documents you need to bring.

What Are the Steps to Apply For SIJS?


Applying for SIJS involves several key steps that must be completed accurately and timely.

1. Obtaining a Juvenile Court Order


First, you need a juvenile court order that finds you cannot reunite with your parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The order must also state that it is not in your best interest to return to your home country. This is known as SIJS findings and it’s something an attorney can help you obtain.

2. Filing Form I-360


Next, you file Form I-360 with USCIS. This form is the official petition for SIJS and must include the juvenile court order. Make sure you take time to complete this form carefully. 


Every section relevant to SIJS must be completed. Be truthful, and give as much information as possible. We appreciate that it can be difficult, but recounting past traumatic events must also be detailed to help make your case credible.

3. Submitting Relevant Evidence With the Form


You must submit evidence supporting your SIJS application, including the juvenile court order and any other relevant documents. This must also include your birth certificate or other proof of age and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services consent if applicable.

4. Attending an Interview if Necessary


In some cases, USCIS may require an interview to verify your eligibility for SIJS. Be prepared to discuss your situation and provide any additional information requested. You will receive a notice to attend the interview from the USCIS.


It is in your best interest to try and attend the first requested date. Also, make sure you prepare for the interview with your attorney. Be punctual, dress smartly, and bring all the required documents, including your completed Form I-360 and identification.


What are the Potential Challenges of the Application Process?


The SIJS process can be challenging, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare. We’ve also provided an assessment of the potential psychological and emotional impacts and tips on how to complete your application smoothly.

Common Challenges Faced


Common challenges include: 


  • Obtaining the necessary juvenile court order.
  • Providing sufficient evidence.
  • Navigating the complex immigration procedures.
  • Completing Form I-360 correctly.
  • Understanding SIJS guardianship.
  • Understanding the SIJS age out by state policies.
  • Meeting deadlines and replying promptly to requests.


This is a multi-pronged process and things can go wrong at each step of the way. This is why legal support can be invaluable. It’s also important to look for help with support groups like the Refugee Council USA, International Rescue Committee, and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

Psychological and Emotional Impact of the Process


The SIJS process can be emotionally taxing. Seek support from counselors, family, or community organizations to help manage stress and anxiety during this time.


You are already dealing with the emotional turmoil from the situation with your parents. Trying to then apply for asylum while going through this can have a psychological impact.

Tips on Overcoming Them


To overcome these challenges, work closely with a knowledgeable attorney, gather comprehensive evidence, and stay informed about the latest legal updates.


We have provided a valuable list of resources and organizations that can help. They are also trained in these situations. They understand what you are going through and the common issue you may face. Your lawyer can also give more resources and support.


Always speak to family members, friends, and guardians where possible. Don’t be afraid to speak about how you are feeling and ask them for help.


Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is Possible if You Are 18-21


Understanding Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is crucial if you are seeking protection in the U.S. If you are aged 18-21, recent legal changes have expanded eligibility, making it more accessible. Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the application process.


What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?


SIJS adjustment of status is an immigration classification that allows certain undocumented children and young adults in the U.S. to apply for a green card if they cannot reunite with their parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

Am I eligible for SIJS if I am over 18?


Yes, recent legal changes have confirmed that individuals aged 18-21 can still be eligible for SIJS, provided they meet the other requirements. This can vary from state to state, though and depends on the SIJS age-out by state policy.

What should I do if my SIJS application was denied after I turned 18?


If your application was denied, consult with an immigration attorney to review your case and explore options for reapplying or appealing the decision. Depending on the state, you may still be able to apply for an SIJS visa over the age of 18.

How can an immigration attorney help me with my SIJS application?


An immigration attorney can provide legal advice, help you gather necessary evidence, represent you in legal proceedings, and guide you through the application process. They have in-depth insight into the U.S. immigration system. Their knowledge is invaluable for you. They know what it takes to make a successful Special Immigrant Juvenile Status case.

What documents are required for an SIJS application?


Key documents include a juvenile court order, Form I-360, evidence of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and any other relevant supporting documentation. For example, you have to provide proof of identification. You may also have to provide proof of your relationship with your parents.

How long does the SIJS application process take?


The process can vary, but the SIJS USCIS department should aim to process applications within 180 days. However, timelines can be affected by court schedules, USCIS processing times, and individual case complexities. Currently, due to the USCIS backlog, the average processing time is around 260 days.



More Posts

Schedule Your Legal Advice Now


Need legal advice as soon as possible?
Contact us now and get the professional help for your case