Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status is a way for immigrants under twenty-one who are abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents to apply for and obtain legal permanent resident (“LPR”) status in the United States.
In order to be eligible for SIJ status, an applicant must establish that: (1) he/she is under twenty-one years of age; (2) he/she is unmarried; (3) he/she has been declared dependent upon a juvenile court; (4) he/she is eligible for long-term foster care; and (5) it is not in his/her best interest to be returned to the country of nationality or last habitual residence of his/her parent or parents.
The SIJ process involves two steps. The first step occurs in either Family Court or Surrogates Court, where the applicant must obtain the necessary Special Findings Order. Upon receipt of the Order, the applicant may then petition with the USCIS or appear before an Immigration Court to file an I-360 Petition for Special Immigrant along with an I-485 Application to Adjust Status.
There are many benefits of obtaining SIJ status. SIJ status waives several types of inadmissibility issues, including: unlawful entry, working without authorization, public charge, and certain types of criminal violations. SIJ status allows a child to obtain LPR status, which provides work authorization and allows the child to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.
Click here to download the SIJS manual.