The law establishing SIJ status was enacted by Congress in 1990 and reauthorized in 2008. According to the Department of Homeland Security, “the purpose of the SIJ program is to help foreign children in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected.” Minors approved for SIJ status can obtain a green card, reside, and work permanently in the United States. If you are the relative, sponsor, or guardian of a foreign-born child who has been abused, abandoned, or neglected in his or her home country, speak at once with an experienced immigration attorney about SIJ status.
Obtaining SIJ status for a minor – like everything else in immigration law – is a complicated process. A state court in the U.S. must first declare that the child is a dependent of the court; it must place the child with a state agency, private agency, or a private individual; it must determine that it is not in the child’s best interests to return to his or her home country; and it must determine that the child cannot be reunited with a parent due to a history of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. To be eligible for SIJ status:
- The applicant must be in the United States when filing Form I-360 for SIJ status.
- The applicant must be under 21 years old on the date Form I-360 is filed.
- The state court order must be in effect on the filing date unless the applicant has “aged out” of the state court’s jurisdiction in the interim.
- The applicant cannot be married either when the application is submitted or when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services makes its decision on the applicant’s status.
Children in the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must request HHS permission to be placed with a state or private agency or with a private individual before the application process can begin. A good immigration lawyer can provide specific advice regarding your particular case. If you are a minor seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile status in the United States, or if you are the sponsor or guardian of a child who should have SIJ status, speak to an experienced immigration attorney immediately.
Contact us to schedule a consultation at our law office in Plainfield, New Jersey. For your convenience, we will meet with you during evenings and Saturdays by appointment.
The Law Offices of Patrick C. McGuinness, LLC
120 W. 7th St
Plainfield, NJ 07060