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.
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.