What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a program for foreign youth, who are in the US, and who require the protection of the US family law system. SIJS is a special status for the protection of juveniles who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. If an applicant qualifies for SIJS they also may qualify to apply for lawful permanent residency.

Who qualifies for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status & State Court Findings

The specific requirements for SIJS are found at INA §(a)(27)(J) and 8 CFR §204.11.

Application for SIJS is made on From I-360, and the visa numbers for SIJS come from the ‘Special Immigrant Category’ (See the 4th Preference Category from the Employment Based Visa Bulletin). The requirements for SIJS are as follows:

  • Applicant must be under 21 years old at the time of filing Form I-360;
  • They must be unmarried;
  • The child must have been declared a dependent child by a United State’s state court;
  • The state court must have had jurisdiction over the child;
  • Whose reunification with one or both parents is not in the child’s best interest due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar grounds, under state law; and
  • It is not in the best interest of the child to be returned to his or his parent’s country of nationality.

To prove the foregoing, an Applicant must go though a state’s family law court system and obtain a series of orders, which include certain ‘Special Findings.’

The orders must specifically find the following:

  • Declare the Applicant dependent on the court, place the Applicant under the custody of the state, or with a person appointed by the state court; AND
  • Declare that under state family law the Applicant cannot be reunited with one or both parents (prior to reaching the age of majority), due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar basis under state law; AND
  • Finds that it would not be in the best interests of the child to be returned to their or their parent’s country of nationality or last habitual residence.

ALL of these findings must be explicitly present in the ‘Special Findings’ of the state court, in order for USCIS to consider the Applicant for SIJS.

Additionally, the state court must have jurisdiction over the child, which means that in many states the child must be under 18 years of age when the findings are made.

Although, several states provide state courts with jurisdiction beyond an Applicant’s 18th birthday.

To be considered for SIJS the Applicant must only be under 21 years of at the time of filing Form I-360.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status & Adjustment of Status

If the I-360 is approved, then the child may apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS), so long as the I-360 was filed prior to their 21st birthday. Check the visa bulletin to see if your priority date is current; it if is, then the Applicant may file their I-485.

  • Applicants are treated as having been paroled into the United States, so they may apply for AOS even if they are out of status or entered without inspection.
  • Many grounds of inadmissibility are automatically waived, including public charge, entry without inspection, misrepresentation, false claim to US citizenship, having worked without authorization, and the 3- and 10-year bars; many other grounds are waivable on the grounds of humanitarian, family unity, and public interest.

If you would like information about special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in SIJS cases. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help!