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Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Special Immigrant Juvenile status is granted to certain undocumented children who have been subject to juvenile court proceedings related to abuse, neglect, or abandonment by a parent. By achieving this status, a child may become eligible to seek lawful permanent residence in the United States. The determination of eligibility is dependent upon the answers collected from the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (I-360) form that the child must complete.

As per the USCIS, a child must meet the following requirements to be considered for Special Immigration Juvenile status:

  • Be physically present in the United States;
  • Be unmarried;
  • Be under the age of 21 upon the date of filing the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360);
  • Have a juvenile court order(s) issued in the United States that meets the specified requirements;
  • Have consent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and
  • Have consent from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), if applicable.

An eligible Special Immigrant Juvenile petition must include juvenile court orders issued from the United States containing the following:

  • Dependency or Custody;
  • Parental Reunification; and
  • Best Interests.

According to the USCIS, dependency or custody refers to when the petitioner is declared a dependent on the court or is placed under the custody of a state agency, department, or person or entity appointed by a state or juvenile court. Parental reunification declares that a petitioner cannot be reunited with their parent(s) while under the age of 21. Lastly, the best interests document states that it would be in the petitioner’s best interest to not be returned to their parent(s) country or last place of residence.

Recently, the USCIS has been denying these petitions at an alarming rate, holding that children over the age of eighteen do not qualify for benefits under Special Immigrant Juvenile status. However, according to the USCIS, a “child” is considered an unmarried individual under the age of 21, for the purposes of Special Immigrant Juvenile classification. The new interpretation of this regulation has been set forth by the Trump Administration, who has deemed that children are under the age of eighteen, not 21. Unfortunately, there are many children that are suffering due to the denial of their Special Immigrant Juvenile petition because of the age discrepancy.

If you or a loved one is a non-citizen under the age of 21 who was a victim of abuse, neglect, or abandonment by a parent and has or would like to petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, it is imperative that you consult an experienced New York immigration lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and help you find available pathways to citizenship. The New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP have years of experience representing clients in complex immigration cases. With two immigration law offices located in New York City and Clark, New Jersey, the firm’s attorneys are available to assist individuals throughout the tri-state area with their immigration matters. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York City immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.

Immigration Consequences of Criminal and Fraudulent Conduct
The immigration consequences of criminal or fraudulent conduct can be harsh and often illogical. Even a very minor offense could have a dramatic immigration consequence, including deportation, detention without bond, being denied naturalization, a visa or re-entry into the United States. Likewise, the use of fake or fraudulent documents, aliases, and other misrepresentations can have similar immigration consequences. Kerry Bretz and Bretz & Coven have been counseling non-citizen criminal defendants, as well as their lawyers, for over 20 years. We have a long history of strategizing deportation and removal defenses, as well as applications for waivers, in very complicated cases.

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"Was trying to get Green Card since about 7 years. Finally when I switched to this law firm I was able to get green card very fast with great confidence. Big thanks to Eileen, Kerry, Manjit and Olga." - Dinesh, Kansas

""With an extensive criminal history: over 14 arrests, 2 State prison bids and several felony convictions no lawyer wanted my case in 2010. Thanks to the experts at Bretz & Coven who worked diligently and with precision, today I am a United States citizen." - E.A. Brooklyn, NY

"Absolutely one the best, if not the best immigration attorneys. They helped from start to finish in my green card process. At no point was I blind-sided by anything. Simply amazing!" - Leon B. Jersey City,

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