New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

What Are The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Requirements?

Author: Sheila Barabino

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an avenue for undocumented children to obtain legal and permanent residency status in the US if they cannot be reunified with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and it is not in their best interests to be returned to their home country. Before a child can apply for SIJS, there are initial requirements that must be met:

  • The child must be under 21 at the time of the filing of USIC Form I-360. The requires evidence of age, including a birth certificate or passport.
  • The child must be declared to be in custody of a juvenile court or federal agency
  • that reunification with one or both of the child’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • that it is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to his or her country of nationality or last habitual residence.

SIJS is unique in that they ask state courts to determine the findings of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. States law on abuse, neglect, and abandonment vary by state, but it is necessary to have as many findings and proof of neglect as possible. It must be proven that the child seeking SIJS for relief from abuse, abandonment, neglect, or a similar basis under state law, and not primarily or solely to obtain an immigration benefit.

It is also best to formulate findings of all three forms of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. This can be done through medical records, declarations or affidavits. It is also done through interviews with other families who are called in to testify in court regarding the abuse, and why is it impossible for the child to receive adequate about the parent in question. Parents may be living in or outside of the United States. Instances of abuse, neglect, or abandonment can include gang violence, drug and alcohol abuse, physical violence, unaccompanied immigration, and sexual abuse. It must be clear to a state judge that one or both of the child’s parents are unfit caretakers.

19 June 2018
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