Situations frequently arise when people who are not qualified to legally enter or remain in the United States, but it would be inhumane to send him or her back to his or her home countries. This type of situation is especially prevalent with children whose parents have abandoned them in the United States or who have no fit adult to care for him or her in his or her home countries. To address this problem, U.S. immigration laws allow children in this situation to obtain lawful status and ultimately permanent residency in the United States through the special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) program. Our attorneys at Bretz & Coven, LLP have assisted children and their guardians throughout NYC in starting a new life in the United States with the help of the SIJ program.
The special immigrant juvenile visa program is different from other types of visas in that it requires coordination with a state family or domestic relations court. To qualify, an applicant must first be adjudicated as dependent by a state court of competent jurisdiction and must also meet several additional requirements:
Some SIJ visa holders may also be eligible to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent resident. While not all SIJ visa holders qualify for lawful permanent residency, many inadmissibility criteria do not apply or apply less stringently to SIJ visa holders. For instance, that a special immigrant juvenile entered the country as children and without inspection or lived in the country undocumented for a period of time may not disqualify the person from receiving an adjustment of status. An experienced NYC immigration attorney can determine if you or your ward qualifies to receive lawful permanent residency under this program.
Whether you received your special immigrant juvenile visa and green card concurrently or apply for an adjustment of status after your SIJ application is approved, you generally receive most of the same rights and privileges as other lawful permanent residents. To prevent overuse of the program, however; there are some restrictions in place. First, because the granting of SIJ status is based on allegations of abuse, abandonment or neglect by the applicant’s parents, a person who receives a green card or even ultimately citizenship through the SIJ program cannot petition for a green card on behalf of those parents. Moreover, SIJ program participants cannot petition on behalf of their siblings until they become U.S. citizens through naturalization.
Our team at the law firm of Bretz & Coven, LLP works with dependent juveniles in NYC and those who care for them to help them understand and obtain the benefits of the special immigrant juvenile visa program. Contact our experienced immigration lawyers in New York City today at 212-267-2555 or online for creative solutions to your complex immigration problems. For an office appointment in Metro Park, New Jersey, call 1 (732) 313-0075.