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Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs)

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJs) is a procedure for granting certain immigrant children under the age of twenty-one lawful immigration status within the United States. The procedure is different than Deferred Action (commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as the "Dream Act"). Under Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ), certain juveniles are eligible for permanent residency, and eventually, United States Citizenship.

Who Qualifies As a Special Immigrant Juvenile?

A SIJ is an unmarried person under the age of 21, within the United States, who has been declared dependent on a juvenile court or state agency. Generally, a court must expressly find that reunification with either parent is not possible, either as a result of abuse or abandonment. It must further be shown that it is in the child's best interest to remain in the United States. Note that it is only required that the child be shown to be abandoned or abused by one parent, not both. Therefore, SIJs is an ideal remedy for undocumented or out-of-status children of single parents.

Process and Procedure

In obtaining immigration benefits under the SIJs program, an immigration attorney must file a motion with a local probate court on behalf of the child. This motion requires that the child be considered "dependent" upon the court or other state agency. Once this motion is made and granted, the child can pursue their application with the USCIS to obtain lawful status. The court must maintain jurisdiction over the child while the application is processed by the USCIS.

Conclusion

Obtaining immigration benefits under SIJs is a complex process that requires the assistance of a qualified Santa Ana immigration attorney. If you would like to learn more about this program for your child, or a child in your care, please contact our office today for a consultation.