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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: How To Serve Your Parents

Author: Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: How To Serve Your Parents

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a good option for children (under 18 or 21 depending on the state law) who were abandoned, neglected or abused by one or both parents and who now are seeking legal status in the US. The first step in obtaining the status would be to go through Family court proceedings: guardianship or custody during which a family court would need to make findings of certain “special facts” which are necessary for one to qualify for SIJ with USCIS.

But before you even get to that, one has to start the proceedings in Family court correctly: file the necessary petition with supporting documents, including the address history of all involved up to 28 years, and serve the respondents! The respondents in guardianship or custody proceedings are one’s parents. Often these people will be overseas, but in the US courts, it is not an excuse not to serve them. A service basically is a warning and notice to parents that proceedings are starting that will affect their interests so that they have a chance to participate. In practice, of course, even overseas located parents are served, they cannot come into the US to participate, but nevertheless, you have to obey the regulations and serve them. How exactly you will serve them will depend on particular circumstances. For example, if your parent is not listed on the birth certificate and never participated in your life, you do not need to serve such a parent. If your parents were not married, but the father is listed on your birth certificate, you will have to serve him.

1. Service by personal service

In most Family courts to my knowledge, the papers must be served via personal service with an affidavit of service to be executed by a person who handed such papers. An affidavit of service has to be very detailed and must be signed in front of a notary (even in a foreign state). Most courts use relaxed standards and will not require you to comply with the Hague convention of service. But some, may. (This is where things will get really complicated and beyond the scope of this article). Otherwise, a family member, a friend or a professional process server can hand over the papers to the parent(s). Now, you can use this method if you know where your parent is located or with help, can locate him/her.

2. Service Via Waiver

Now, if your parent agrees not to participate in the proceedings, he/she may execute a waiver of service. The form for the waiver is approved by the courts. It is in English. This form must be signed by your parent in front of a notary, and often it means that first it will be translated into your parent’s native language, then the parent will execute it, and then the executed form will be translated back into English. The court must make sure that your parent understood that he/she waived the rights to participate in the proceedings. In this case, personal service is not needed as the executed waiver will substitute it.

3. Motion to Waive The Service

Finally, if you do not know where your parent is, and cannot locate him/her you can ask the court to waive the requirement to serve the parent. You will need to attach an affidavit exampling your efforts in locating the parent. It means that no personal service or waiver of service executed by your parents will be necessary. This is a good option in those situations where you lost contact with your parent and there are no family members/friends who know where your parent is.

At times, the court will issue Summons and the Order to Show Cause with a deadline to produce proof of service. At times, the court will not do that and will just adjourn (postpone) the case until the proof of service in any of the above-mentioned forms is found satisfactory.

If you have more questions regarding SIJ, please call to book a consultation at 917-885-2261 or email

15 July 2019
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