Minor children who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned, by either parent may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Minors with SIJS may be eligible for lawful permanent residency in the future.
Eligibility for SIJS
You must meet the following conditions to qualify for SIJS:
- Be under 21 years old;
- Reside in the United States (at time of filing and at the time a decision is reached);
- Be unmarried (at time of filing and also at the time a decision is reached);
- You can previously have been married; however, you must be divorced at the time of filing.
- You must have a juvenile court order, issued by a state court, finding:
- That you are dependent on the court, in the custody of child services, or the custody of an individual appointed by a court; AND
- You cannot be reunited with one or both parents because of:
- Neglect, or
- A similar basis under state law; AND
- It is not in your best interest to return to your country of origin.
For USCIS to approve your SIJS application, your state court order MUST include all of the findings mentioned above.
**A note on state courts: many state courts only have jurisdiction over minors until they turn 18 years old. Thus, although you must file for SIJS before you turn 21, in many cases, you must obtain the court order before you turn 18.
Things to Note About SIJS
- If granted SIJS, several grounds of inadmissibility will be waived when applying for lawful permanent residency.
- Once your priority date is current, and you are otherwise admissible to the United States, you can file for lawful permanent residency.
- Applicants for SIJS cannot include derivatives (other family members) in their application.
- Children who obtain green cards through SIJS can never petition for their parents.
- Children who become lawful permanent residents through SIJS can petition for their siblings once they become United States citizens.
SIJS Application Process
- Obtain a state court order finding that the applicant has been abused, abandoned, or neglected.
- File Form I-360, Petition for Special Immigrant, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Once your I-360 has been approved, periodically check the visa bulletin to see whether your priority date is current. In the visa bulletin, SIJS applicants are covered under the 4th preference category under employment-based green cards.
- Once your priority date is current, file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status.