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Alice Antonovsky
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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Can Young Undocumented Immigrants Legalize Their Status?

Young undocumented immigrants living in foster care in the U.S. who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent can become eligible for U.S. lawful permanent residence (also known as Green Card) as Special Immigrant Juveniles. What's more, they can file for a Green Card using Adjustment of Status and won't have to leave the United States for an interview at a consulate in their own country. Instead, they will attend an interview at an USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) office.

Special Immigrant Juveniles could even be on their way to obtaining the United States citizenship, that is once they have a Green Card in hand and become eligible for Naturalization. This category does not require the applicant to have an employer, even if the range of categories of "Special Immigrant" are regarded as employment-based grounds of Green Card eligibility.

Who Is Eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

To be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a child must be under 21 years of age at the time of filing the application with USCIS and U.S. Citizenship, unmarried, physically present in the United States and have a juvenile court order. SIJ-eligible children come from a range of circumstances, including children in federal custody in the U.S. without parents or legal guardians, children in the court-ordered custody of an individual or state agency and children in foster care.

Application Process for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

The application process for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status can be completed in a number of simple steps:

  • First of all, you must mail a visa petition on Form I-360 including the range of forms for Adjustment of Status to a USCIS regional service center.
  • The support documents should include verification of the child's age, two passport-style color photographs, a birth certificate, the court orders declaring the child to be in the custody of the state and a sealed medical examination report by a designated civil surgeon.
  • Form G-345 must also be provided for children over fourteen years of age as well as his or her arrest record, if applicable.
  • A fee is requested with a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status application. Nevertheless, a fee waiver can be requested if the child has no money.
  • The child will be called in for fingerprinting and for an interview at an USCIS office after the adjustment of status application has been submitted.
  • The child should be approved for U.S. lawful permanent residence at that time.

What Are the Benefits of Applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

The most relevant benefit of applying for SIJS is obtaining a Green Card, therefore, legalizing their status. This would give him or her the right to work and live permanently in the country, as well as traveling in and out of the United States. They may also be eligible for federal financial aid and federal foster care to go to college.

Keep in mind that a Special Immigrant Juvenile who gets permanent residency is entitled to keep it after this person is no longer under juvenile court jurisdiction. The only reason permanent residence would end would be if the person became deportable for any reason, including, but not limited to conviction as an adult for criminal offenses or violation of certain laws.

Related Article: Avoid Deportation, Legalize Your Status in the US

Last Thoughts

As you can see, there is a lot of important information you need to be fully aware of before applying for the SIJ category. Before you file a petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, talk to one of our experienced attorneys who can guide you through the entire process, making it simpler.

Please feel free to contact us and schedule a personalized and confidential consultation to analyze your case. Call us at (718) 924-2896 or use any of the contact forms on our website.