New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: A Path To Citizenship For Kids

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

With DACA being abrogated, and uncertain Immigration future, many are looking for a way out of the “illegal Immigration” trap. One solution that is suitable for young children (under 21 years old) is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Of course, a person has to meet certain requirements before he/she can qualify and apply for this status.

First of all, this solution I suitable only for children under 21 years old (in New York). In some states a legal definition of a child would state that a person has to be under 18. So, who is a “child” differs from state to state.

Second, a child has to have a guardian: a person over 21 years old who is willing to supervise the child until he/she reaches 18 or 21 years old. The proposed guardian need not to be related to the child. The proposed guardian may even be a child’s parent who is in the US, even if such a parent does not a legal status in the US him/herself.

Third, a Family Court judge needs to grant a guardianship or custody petition in favor of the proposed guardian, and issue and order of special findings that would allow a child to file for his/ her green card.

An application for Special Immigrant Status that must be filed before the child’s 21st birthday. With the recent changes, a child need not answer a question if he/she ever worked in the US without an authorization. A child need not to show that he/she entered the US legally either. So, kids who came to the US by “crossing the border” would qualify for the status. However, nothing is easy, and USCIS will test the application to see if it was submitted with the sole purpose of getting a green card, or if the child deserves the protections of the US laws and because of that qualifies for permanent residency.

In certain cases, USCIS will call a child for an interview. The application still can be granted if a child turns 21 while the application is pending. The main thing here is to file before the child’s 21st birthday.

One point to remember: once such a child receives a green card, he/she will never be able to sponsor his/her parents. Even a parent who was not recognized by the court to be abusive. But recent law suggests that a child, once becomes a citizen, may sponsor his/her siblings. Of course, it takes years to sponsor a sibling, but at least such an option may be available.

If you have questions about special immigrant juvenile status, please call our office at 917-885-2261.

27 September 2017
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