For many people, entry into the US is a long-term goal centered around the desire to either work or live in the United States. However, for some, the decision to live in the United States is more complex. Minors who are currently in the United States—either lawfully and unlawfully—may be eligible for special immigrant juvenile status, an adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent residence in some very specific instances.
The Basics Of SIJS
Understanding whether a minor will qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status can be challenging. In order to ensure that a child receives the best chance at success and lawful permanent residence if possible, consulting with an experienced immigration firm is critical. An immigration attorney can assist you in your application process, and ensure you’re informed along the way.
A minor may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) if he or she meets certain criteria for abuse, neglect, or abandonment by one or both parents. Because the qualifications for SIJS involve parental information, whether the minor is currently residing in the US lawfully has no bearing on the decision of the family court.
In order to qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and achieve adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent resident, a minor must fulfill a number of criteria. First, the applicant must be under 21 years of age. Anyone who is 21 years of age or older is no longer considered a minor or a dependent and must enter and reside in the United States via normal means, such as employment-based visas.
Unmarried & Under 21 Years Old
Second, the applicant must be unmarried. While minors are not typically permitted to get married, it is important to remember that the age cutoff for SIJS is 21; 20-year-olds committing to marriage is not particularly uncommon.
Juvenile Declared Dependent
In addition, the juvenile must be declared dependent in a juvenile court. This means that a family court must review petitions addressing the needs of the applicant and that the applicant becomes the responsibility of the court instead of the parents.
Parents Cannot Be Involved
The parents of the child must no longer be involved in order to qualify for SIJS, as reunification must be proved not to be viable due to abuse, neglect, or a similar circumstance. It is for this reason that the child is declared a dependent of the court.
If a child has reasonable means to reunify with his or her parents, successfully receiving Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is unlikely.
Prove Best Interests
Finally, it is important to prove that it is not in the best interests of the minor to return to his or her home country or last place of residence. This may be proven by a history of abuse or even the political climate of the country of nationality.
Contact An Experienced Immigration Attorney
The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge can review your individual case and offer guidance on how to begin the process of petitioning for Special Immigration Juvenile Status in the United States. By compiling a thorough and comprehensive petition, a minor child will have the best chance at lawful permanent residence and a promising future in the United States. For more information about special immigrant juvenile status, give us a call at 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online.