Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is an immigrant status afforded to a select number of immigrants who travel to the United States as minors. To qualify, they must meet certain specific criteria:
- They must have been under the age of 21 at the time they filed for SIJS.
- They must currently be living in the United States.
- They must be unmarried (either because they never married, or because their previous marriage ended in divorce, annulment or death).
- They must have a juvenile court order that has found:
- They are dependent on the court, on a government entity or a guardian appointed by said court or entity;
- They cannot be reunified by their parents due to abuse, abandonment or neglect;
- And that it is not in their best interests to return to their country of origin.
- They must have obtained the court order for relief from abuse, neglect or abandonment, and not primarily for an immigration benefit;
- If they are currently in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) / Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), they must have written consent from HHS if the juvenile court order would also change their custody status or placement.
As you can see, the criteria for get SIJS is already quite strict, and with this new policy change, it would’ve become even harder for those seeking relief to get it. Worse, this policy affected some of the most vulnerable immigrants, those who are fleeing abuse, neglect or abandonment by their own parents. By striking down this policy, those seeks SIJS may, hopefully, breathe a bit easier.
If you are a non-citizen seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status or other immigration relief, please call the attorneys at Bretz & Coven LLP. We will help you through the difficult process of applying for an H1 visa or employment-related green card, protecting your rights and giving you the best chance possible at attaining legal status. To schedule a consultation with our New York immigration lawyers, call (212) 267-2555.