SIJS Procedures, Costs, & ChallengesWhen applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), it’s important to understand that state courts play a crucial role as fact finders in the process. They will carefully review the child’s application, their declaration, and any supporting evidence provided to make sure that the story presented in the child’s declaration is accurate. If there are any suspicions or doubts about the declaration, the courts will exercise their power to conduct further investigations.

Additionally, state courts typically conduct an inquiry into the environment where the child will be placed. The court’s primary concern is to ensure that the child will be in a safe and nurturing environment once they are granted SIJS, highlighting the court’s commitment to the child’s well-being and safety.

The SIJS Timeline And Waiting Period For Visa, Lawful US Residency, & A Green Card

The SIJS visa offers a clear pathway to residency, but it’s important to note that it’s not an immediate one. Once your special immigrant visa is approved, the case enters a waiting list. The priority date is the date when your application was submitted, and the government issues a monthly bulletin that updates who is eligible to apply for a green card with SIJS.

In today’s landscape, this waiting process can take four to five years. However, during this entire waiting period, as long as the child stays in the United States, and avoids arrests, criminal convictions, or any legal issues, they are eligible to remain in the country indefinitely. The child can even obtain work authorization, and thanks to the principle of deferred action, they will have a government promise that they will not be deported. This allows the child to live and work in the United States with a level of security while waiting for their green card application to become current.

The Best Time To Start The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Application Is Now

It’s best to apply for an SIJS visa as soon as possible so that the applicant can get in line – after all, there could be up to five years of waiting involved. In fact, even if the applicant is very young, it’s better to start the process at an early age. That way, the majority of the time that they spend waiting for residency will be while they’re in school, and by the time they graduate high school, they’ll be eligible to file their green card application. Even for youths who are 18 or 19, it is important to file the visa as soon as possible. In these later cases, time is ticking, and the applicant is much closer to the cut-off age of 21.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help Determine If A Child Has A Strong SIJS Case

It‘s vital to have an experienced and specialized attorney on your side throughout the process. You may not know this, but the majority of work on the SIJS visa is done in state courts. Because of this, a lawyer who is focused only on immigration courts will not be familiar with state court proceedings and might have trouble getting the application prepared or requesting the findings required. The last thing you want is an even slower process or one with an error that could cost you the whole thing – especially when you could have a specialist who knows exactly what to ask and what to argue.

What’s more, the advantages of experience when dealing with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status applications is key when it comes to knowing exactly what questions to ask and being able to tell when a case will have a good chance of success.

My approach to this is typically to ask the child or their guardian about the child’s upbringing and what they faced – and to build a rapport with the child. This is especially crucial because it’s important for the child to feel comfortable talking to me about difficult things that maybe they have not talked to other adults about before. After all, the most important and rewarding aspect is learning their story, learning what has happened, and being able to help. We can do so by determining if what happened to the child is abuse, abandonment, or neglect and making a legal determination from that which can set them on the path to residency.

The Challenges And Obstacles Every Minor Faces When Applying For SIJS Status

As with many things in life, the biggest challenges and obstacles during the immigration process are often monetary. In the case of SIJS applications, sometimes this can mean the struggle of trying to meet the filing fees. In California, cases set in the probate court (for people who are 18 or over), the court charges around $1,200 in fees. While there are fee waivers, of course, not everyone can get them. Therefore money can become a huge issue.

Another challenge many applications face is trying to find a parent who abandoned the child. Often these kids don’t know who one of their parents is because they never got a chance to meet them, or they don’t have any memory of them if they did. In these cases, it’s even less likely that they know where the parent is currently living. If it is in their home country, another part of the US, or even in a different country altogether, it can be very difficult to track down a parent who abandoned their child.

The third obstacle is timing. Sometimes we find out that a child is eligible for SIJS when they are only a few months away from turning 21. In such cases, we have to hurry and get everything prepared as fast as possible, as well as make a motion to advance a hearing as soon as possible. If we are quick and lucky, the applicant will be able to get their day in court, get their order, and finally apply for the special juvenile visa.

Overcoming these challenges, however, is why we are here. Making sure that these children have the best possible chance at a new, safe, and fulfilling life. That is my privilege as their lawyer, and my job is to find each and every way to improve their chances.

For more information on Applying 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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