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