Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) was created in 1990 to provide a path to lawful permanent residency for undocumented children who meet certain requirements, such as being the victim of familial abuse in their country of origin.
In 2008, the statute that created SIJS was amended and the requirements changed significantly.
Certain factual findings must be made by a U.S. state court in order for the minor child to apply for SIJS through USCIS.
The current requirements are as follows:
- The minor must be declared dependent on the court or in the custody of a state agency, or appointed to the custody of an individual by a state agency
- The minor has been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents and, as a result, reunification with the parent(s) is not viable
- It is not in the minor’s best interest to return to the home country
The definition of “abuse, neglected or abandoned” is determinate upon state law and thus that portion of the requirements can vary significantly from state to state.
Once the state court has issued an order declaring the minor has met the three requirements, the minor is then able to file an I-360 with USCIS.
In addition to the requirements listed above, the applicant must not be married or over the age of 21 at the time of filing the I-360.
When the I-360 is approved and you receive your green card, you will be able to work and permanently reside in the United States just as if you had adjusted status to permanent residency from a visa.
Since the first portion of the process depends heavily on state courts and state law, it is advised that minors seeking SIJS contact a local attorney to represent them in state court.
The process can be confusing, difficult, and costly because it is not uniform to all 50 states.