Who Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Is For - Montclair, CASpecial Immigrant Juvenile Status Qualification Criteria Minor Must Meet

The main criteria a minor must meet for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is that they have suffered abuse, abandonment, or neglect. In addition, the abuse, abandonment, or neglect has to be at the hands of one or both parents. If a child is in the U.S. with both parents and they’re growing up in a safe and nurturing environment, then they won’t qualify for SIJS.

The Age Limits For SIJS Eligibility

Contrary to what some might think, SIJS is not an option limited to minor children. In fact, the age limit for applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is 21 in California. Therefore, a young person can apply for SIJS up until the age of 21 – not 18, as many falsely believe. However, it is important to note that the government has to receive the visa application the day before the child’s 21st birthday at the latest and the final state court order needs to be obtained before the child turns 21. I have faced situations where an applicant is even 20 years and 10 months old and we need to make the applications on an emergency basis and, in those cases, we always request an advanced hearing so that they are able to benefit from the program.

The Specific Instances Of Abuse, Neglect, Or Abandonment Required To Qualify For SIJS

In order to apply for the special immigrant juvenile visa, you need an order from a state or local court that says that a child has suffered abuse, abandonment, or neglect. If a judge, for whatever reason, decides that there hasn’t been abuse, abandonment, or neglect or that the case is not approved for some other reason, then you will not be able to apply for the special juvenile visa. That is why it is the first and often most crucial step in the special juvenile process.

Luckily, the standards are wide in the SIJS program, and documented evidence of abuse or neglect is not required for a child to qualify. In many cases, the abuse or neglect suffered by the child isn’t formally documented, and there are typically no police reports or investigations confirming it. Instead, the majority of cases involve “evidence” in the form of the child simply sharing their life story.

For instance, if a child is unable to attend school because they have to work in the fields to support their family, this can be seen as a form of abuse or abandonment. Alternatively, some children may recount experiences of extreme discipline from their parents, including physical beatings or prolonged punishments, such as making them stay on their knees. While these incidents may not have official documentation, testimony is typically considered as credible evidence which can lead to SIJS approval.

The strengths of the SIJS program lie in its broad standards and commitment to giving children the benefit of the doubt. This approach recognizes that children need protection and aims to safeguard their well-being and childhood to the greatest extent possible.

Immigration Or Removal Proceedings And Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Most often, when a child is applying for SIJS, they have just arrived from their home country and are still in the middle of other immigration court proceedings. Judges, fortunately, are inclined to grant continuances so that the SIJS process can be applied for, even if the child is at risk of removal or deportation. Once Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is approved, judges are often willing to terminate any other immigration cases against the applicant.

If the removal case is dismissed and the SIJS application is approved, the child will get the visa and be eligible for deferred action. This is a guarantee and promise from the government that, if everything remains the same, the child will not be placed in removal proceedings and they can remain in the United States while they are waiting for that visa to become current.

SIJS Status Juveniles Can Work And Support Themselves

One of the latest changes in SIJS status from the US government was to offer deferred action once the special immigrant juvenile visa is approved. In the past, during the Obama presidency and the Trump presidency, this benefit was not available. Previously, applicants had to wait for their SIJS visa to become current before they were eligible for employment authorization, but now that has changed. As of 2023, as soon as the SIJS visa is approved, a child is able to apply for work authorization.

This is especially good for youths 18 and over who have to start working because they are no longer in school – but there are benefits to applying for employment authorization even for minor children. Doing so means they will be issued with a social security number, and that is helpful for schools; then in the future, it will be easier for them to have work authorization if they need it.

For more information on Qualifying For Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 900-1714 today.

The Law Office Of Eloy Aguirre

Call Now To Get Help With Your Citizenship:
(626) 900-1714

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