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What is a Special Immigrant Juvenile?

Posted on in Immigration
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Chicago deportation defense attorneys, deportation order, lawful permanent resident, child immigrants, immigration statusWith the events occurring at the United States’ southern border, the status of young immigrants has been a hot button issue for everyone. While most of the problems in Texas and Arizona center around children who arrived in the U.S. with their parents, however, there are other categories under which a child may seek asylum or other lawful status in the country. One of the most common is as a Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ), which is, as are so many other types, under attack.

The Basics

A person under age 21 can apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile status upon arrival in the United States if he or she can show that his or her protection of a juvenile court is required — usually because he or she has been abandoned or abused (or neglected, which is considered a form of abuse) by a parent — and all the criteria is met. If SIJ status is granted, it will often lead to a grant of lawful permanent residency (in other words, a green card).

In order to meet the criteria for SIJ status, you must:

  • Be under the age of 21 when your petition is filed;
  • Be unmarried (either having never married or having been widowed or divorced);
  • Be living in the U.S., both at the time of the petition being filed and at the time a decision is made; and
  • Be the subject of a valid juvenile court order alleging several things — namely that you are either dependent on the court or in state custody, you cannot be reunited with your parents due to abuse or abandonment, and it would not be in your “best interest” to be returned to your country of nationality (or if not the same, your last country of residence before the United States).

While some criteria are easier to meet than others, generally, as long as there is proof that all criteria has been met, a minor child has a decent chance at being granted SIJ status, especially if he or she is documented (though it is not impossible for an undocumented child to be approved).

Rules Are Changing

In the past, SIJ status would go hand in hand with the grant of a green card; however, this is no longer the case for some. Under the current administration, various applicants are being denied because of their age — in other words, being over the age of 18 — when the relevant statute holds that as long as someone is under the age of 21 when his or her petition is filed, age should not be a barrier. However, due to rampant fear of MS-13 members attempting to use SIJ status as a way into the country, the current administration has begun to arbitrarily deny some applicants.

If you are in the position of having been denied despite meeting the relevant criteria, it is possible to appeal in most cases. However, it remains to be seen if the trend to deny some applicants will turn into a settled policy. If this interpretation of SIJ rules becomes the prevailing one with the government , then it will make SIJ cases that much more difficult. Unfortunately, all one can do is try, and to ensure that the best help available is on their side.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance Today

Because of the changes in so many immigration rules, especially regarding the fate of children, consulting an attorney has become more imperative than ever in today’s terrifying climate. The passionate Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will work hard for you and do our best to ensure fairness in your case. Call us today to set up a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/sij

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/18/nyregion/special-immigrant-juvenile-status-trump.html

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