Juvenile Immigration Lawyer in Newark Providing Legal Counsel for Clients Seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a category of employment-based immigration meant to assist certain eligible immigrants under the age of 21. Learn how SIJS works and how young immigrants can apply to become legal residents through this visa category, and see why working with a juvenile immigration lawyer may be in your best interest.
What Is the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?
SIJS, or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, is considered a special category of employment-based immigration visas available to young immigrants under the age of 21 who have been victims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one or both parents. This visa category gives undocumented minors an opportunity to apply to receive legal permanent residency status and be allowed to live, work and study in the USA.
SIJS is an important step for minors who have entered or remained in the country unlawfully. Unlawful entry or presence can be an obstacle for an immigrant to request an Adjustment of Status, but receiving Special Juvenile Immigrant Status opens a path for juveniles to apply for a green card; however, there are only a limited number of visas available for SIJS applicants per country, per year, meaning there may be a significant waiting period before someone with an SIJ status can apply for Adjustment of Status.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for SIJS?
In order for a young immigrant to receive SIJ status, the applicant must be under 21 years old and unmarried at the time when the application is submitted. In addition, the applicant must be declared dependent in a juvenile court and must prove that reuniting with one or both parents and/or returning to the country of origin is not in the minor’s best interests due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or any other condition applicable under state law.
The minor must have sought a juvenile court order with the purpose of obtaining relief from an abusive or neglectful situation rather than for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. SIJ applicants must also be currently present in the United States, as applying to enter the U.S. as an SIJ from outside the country is not allowed.
What Are the Steps to Obtaining a Green Card Through SIJS?
The process to file for SIJS begins with gathering all necessary supporting documentation and forms, including Form I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. In addition to completing form I-360, the applicant must also submit evidence of age, such as a birth certificate, passport, or any other official identity document issued by a foreign government.
The applicant is also required to include valid juvenile court orders for dependency or custody, written consent from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (if the applicant is under HHS custody), and Form G-28 Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative if the applicant is being represented by an attorney or another accredited representative. Once the application for SIJS is submitted and approved, the minor is eligible to submit form I-485 Adjustment of Status, but USCIS may not process the form right away as there may be a limited number of visas available for SIJS applicants every year.
It is possible for the minor to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, in order to obtain a temporary work authorization that allows that person to seek employment while their case is pending. Once their Adjustment of Status application is approved, the SIJ becomes a Lawful Permanent Resident, and the temporary work permit is no longer needed.
What Can a Juvenile Immigration Lawyer Do to Help?
If you or a loved one need help with the process of applying for legal permanent residency through SIJS, reach out to the Law Office of Elsy Segovia, P.C., to get legal guidance and answers to your questions. Our juvenile immigration lawyers can help you every step of the way. Reach out to our office in Newark, New Jersey, by calling 973-313-5794.