Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas

Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas

Special Immigrant Juvenile visas are available to certain young people who need protection because they have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by one or both of their parents. 

The Special Immigrant Juvenile classification has very specific requirements, but with this status, a young immigrant may qualify for lawful permanent residency. In other words, this special status can lead to the young immigrant getting a green card and the protection of juvenile court.

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Benefits of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

This special status waives many types of inadmissibility grounds that would usually prevent you from ever getting your green card. 

Unlawful entry, working without authorization, being considered a public charge (being dependent on public assistance), and many other immigration violations are grounds for inadmissibility. 

That means these things would normally prevent you from getting immigration benefits. 

Yet, with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, your well-being is considered more important than these other situations, and many grounds of inadmissibility can be overlooked. 

Your lawyer will help you with this, but it’s important to be totally honest with your lawyer.

If you get a Special Immigrant Juvenile visa, you can apply for authorization to work in the United States.

After 5 years of being a permanent resident, if you’ve followed all necessary criteria, you may even be able to apply for citizenship. Your immigration attorney will explain the process to you and how long you will likely have to wait at every step.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Eligibility

The requirements for eligibility are very specific. You must meet every eligibility point to be considered for SIJS. 

Take a look at this list and see if you meet the criteria:

  1. You must be under 21 years old when you file your SIJ petition.
  2. You must already be living in the United States.
  3. You must be unmarried when you file the petition and stay unmarried until your SIJ petition is approved.
  4. A court order finds that you are dependent on the court, in custody of a state agency, or in the custody of someone appointed by the court when you file the petition and at least until your SIJ petition is approved. If you were adopted or placed in permanent guardianship or aged out of juvenile court, you would not be disqualified under this requirement, because some courts can’t issue a juvenile court order for someone older than 18.
  5. You can’t be reunited with one or both of your parents because of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or other form of similar endangerment.
  6. It’s not in your best interests to return to your country of origin or the last place where you or your parents lived.
  7. You are eligible for USCIS consent when they make the decision on your petition, or in other words, you sought out the relief.

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How to Petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and a SIJ Visa

If you meet the eligibility requirements and think you may qualify for SIJS, you should consult with an attorney.

Together, you will file the following forms and supporting documentation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

Obtaining A Waiver of Inadmissibility - Erin J. Lee (2)

If you are eligible to petition for this special immigrant status, you will have to go to immigration court hearings. Even if you are an Unaccompanied Minor, or someone who entered the country without a parent, you don’t need to be scared. Your attorney will be by your side. They will help you get your court order and file all paperwork.

Then, if your petition is approved, you and your attorney can work on getting you a green card. It might seem hard to believe, but after all this, there is still more paperwork to file.

There is a wait list for almost all immigrant visas. You will be given what’s called a priority date. Your attorney will wait until you are allowed to apply for an Adjustment of Status from SIJS to lawful permanent resident.

In the meantime, there are other things you can do so that you’re ready for when it’s your turn to apply for your green card. For example, you will need a medical exam. You can get that scheduled and get Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccine Records filled out with your attorney.

As soon as the Visa Bulletin says that a visa has become available in your category, your attorney will help you turn in your Adjustment of Status paperwork, which is Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. When you turn in that form, you will also turn in your Form I-693 that you already took care of. Plus you can also turn in a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization if you are old enough to get a job.

If you’ve been in any circumstances that would normally make a person not allowed to get a green card, talk about it with your attorney. Together you can fill out Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. Since you have SIJ status, they are willing to waive many previous issues.

Don’t worry, if you picked an immigration lawyer skilled in Special Immigrant Juvenile visas, like the Law Offices of Erin J. Lee, these forms are no problem. They might seem overwhelming to you, but immigration lawyers handle these forms every day. They can even help you fill out a form asking to have the filing fees for your green card waived.

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FAQs About Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas

What kind of things do I need to tell my lawyer about my past?

You should tell your lawyer everything that is relevant. Tell your lawyer how you got into the United States. If you have illegal activity in your past, like drug use or gang membership, tell your lawyer. 

If you have any contact with your parents, tell that to your lawyer too! Your lawyer is there to protect you and to fight for you. While that may seem strange if you’ve come from a place where adults you were supposed to be able to trust abused or neglected you, your immigration lawyer will help you every step of the way.

They will even help you prepare for making your testimony in court and explain what you should wear.

What happens if I get married before my SIJS is approved?

If you get married, you become ineligible for SIJ status. You must stay unmarried all the way until your Form I-360 has been approved.

Should I try to answer questions that I don’t understand when I’m in court?

No. Do not answer questions that you don’t understand. It’s OK to ask the judge to explain what they mean. Remember, your attorney is there to help you too.

California Special Immigrant Juvenile Attorney

If you need help with a Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa, make sure you consult with an experienced immigration attorney. The Law Offices of Erin J. Lee have helped clients all around California with all their immigration legal matters. If you need help with this or any other immigration issue, request a consultation today.

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