What Is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

Some children, sadly, experience neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Some of these minors are not citizens of the United States. The Special Immigrant Juvenile classification is meant for these people. The result is that children can become legal permanent residents. This is someone who holds a “green card.”

Another powerful offshoot of this benefit is that the applicant can also apply for work authorization in the U.S. 

Who Is Eligible 

Special Immigrant Juveniles are under the age of 21 when their petition is filed. In other words, someone may become a legal permanent resident after they turn 21 as long as they formally initiated the process before their 21st birthday. 

Even though they are referred to as children, some people seeking this status will be over 18. That is ok. However, these applicants cannot be married. Having a previous marriage is acceptable, but the applicant must be divorced when the petition is filed. Annulments and the death of a spouse will suffice.

The Juvenile Does Not Have Alternate Options

The process will be explained in more detail in the next section, but the child being reunited with his or her parents cannot be an option. One or both of them will have been the source of the abandonment, neglect, or abuse. 

Like in any juvenile case, the court will always choose the option they believe to be in the best interests of a child. If it is not in the child’s best interest to return to their country of origin, they are eligible for this classification. 

The Process 

There are two separate phases for this. The first is to petition and receive the SJI classification. If you are trying to help a minor get out of a hostile and unsafe home environment, spend some time seriously considering hiring an attorney. To successfully obtain an SJI, here are some of the steps and hurdles:

  • Obtaining, completing, and filing the correct forms
  • Proving the minor’s age
  • Any court juvenile court order (a special findings order states that the minor eligible for SIJ)
  • Any relevant documents from Health & Human Services (HHS)
  • Consent from HHS is essential if the child is in their custody

If an accredited representative or an attorney successfully demonstrates that the minor is a candidate for SIJ, then you move on to filing for your status as a legal permanent resident.  

Csépes Law Offices

If you or someone you love is caught in an abusive household, contact the Csépes Law Offices to schedule a consultation. Sometimes people need someone who believes in them and will fight for their best interests. From experience, we know firsthand how complex the immigration process can be for people. Let us help you with your legal issues surrounding immigration.

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