Special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification is a special immigrant classification that is sometimes granted to non-citizens residing in the United States who require the protection of a juvenile court due to abuse, abandonment or neglect by their parent(s). The granting of SIJ status may qualify the non-citizen to become a lawful permanent resident and is one of the most common pathways to getting a Green Card for immigrant youth.
Although the process of filing for SIJ status is complex, our seasoned immigration law experts at Familia America Immigration can help. We have helped thousands of non-citizens on their path to citizenship, and we pride ourselves in honest, compassionate legal representation for all of our clients.
In order to qualify for SIJ classification, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says that the applicant must meet all of the following statutory requirements:
- Be under the age of 21 when filing Form I-360, the petition for SIJ status.
- Be living in the U.S. at the time of application, including when filing the application and when USCIS decides on whether to grant SIJ status.
- Be unmarried at the time of the petition being filed and when a decision on SIJ status is determined; applicants may have also been previously married, provided the marriage ended in divorce, death or annulment.
- Possess a valid court order from a juvenile court in the U.S. that finds that the petitioner is dependent on the court or is a ward of a state department or agency and have not been reunified with a parent due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. The petitioner must have the order in place at the time of the petition filing and when a decision is reached. An exception to this is in the event that the court’s jurisdiction expired due to the applicant’s placement or adoption with a permanent guardian or if the applicant aged out of the court’s jurisdiction.
- Have sought relief from abuse, neglect or abandonment under state law, not just to obtain an easier route to citizenship.
What To Do Next
Immigration law is nothing if not complex. Understanding the nuances of U.S. immigration law is difficult, especially for non-citizens who may not speak English. SIJ is a valid option for much immigrant youth, but it is not the only option. It is not unusual for immigrant children to qualify for relief under the Violence Against Women Act or in the form of a “U Visa,” which is available to children who are victims of specific crimes. Children who fear to return to their home countries may also qualify for asylum.
Fortunately, our green card lawyers in Salt Lake City, Utah provide invaluable advice and representation to our clients with the goal of helping them achieve their goal of becoming legal residents in this great country. No matter your immigration issue, the team at Familia America Immigration wants to be there for you. Give us a call at 801-656-9605 or click here for help with your immigration woes.