A person who moves to the US but is not a citizen is considered an immigrant. They can come to the US with a visa or without one. The US government decides what status an immigrant has or does not have. An immigrant without legal status or who has overstayed their visa is considered an illegal immigrant.
This means they cannot work or live in the US, and they are always in danger of getting deported. Some illegal immigrants can have legal immigration status. For example, they can get asylum or legal permanent residency through their family or employer. Some immigration routes for immigrant juvenile status have specific rules and conditions that must be met.
Kids who do not have legal immigration status cannot get jobs and are always at risk of being sent back home. That is why the US Congress created an immigration category called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). It is a legal immigration program for kids who meet specific criteria but must pass through state juvenile courts.
Suppose you are a non-citizen kid who has been mistreated, abused, or left behind by a parent. In that case, you can apply for a green card and become a legal resident of the United States through the SIJS. If you are an immigrant minor living in Ozone Park or other parts of the US, you can get SIJS by applying for it.
It is a process that starts when you are a minor, so you need to get it done on time. An immigration attorney in Ozone Park can help you get it done. Since it is such a complex process, it is super important that you get an immigration attorney in Ozone Park to help you.
Here is some info to help you understand the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).
What is SIJS?
SIJS is a legal status for kids who are in the US illegally and cannot get back together with their parents due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect. It is for undocumented kids who are dependents or have been placed in foster care. You can also apply for green cards through SIJS if you are a minor and your parents have abused, abandoned, or neglected you.
Abusing a child can be physical or emotional. Physical abuse is when a parent hits or kicks a child, while emotional abuse is when a child is called names or made to feel scared or worthless. When a parent abandons a child, it can be physical, like leaving them in an apartment without food or water for days.
Or it can be emotional, like telling a child they are never coming back for them or never wanting to see them again. Neglect is when a parent does not care for their child by providing them with food, clothes, shelter, or medical care. Get to know more about the scope of SIJS by talking with an immigration attorney in Ozone Park.
Comparing SIJS with Asylum
When trying to figure out what options are available, it is essential to know how SIJS relates to asylum and how it differs from it. Preparing for both will involve talking about and writing about traumatic experiences for the child, but there are also some significant differences.
For asylum, a successful claim is made because the government did something wrong or did not have control over the situation. With SIJS, it is the child’s own parents who did the bad stuff, so the child needs to be ready to make these claims against their parents, both in court and in person.
Some kids, even those treated poorly by their parents, may not want to make these claims, at least not immediately. State court papers will usually be served on the parents if they live. An immigration attorney in Ozone Park will explain this and more to you so you know what is expected of you.
Pros and Cons of SIJS
SIJS has some advantages. First, you do not need to have entered the US legally. Second, you do not have to provide financial support to the child. These two conditions make the child inadmissible for most green cards. In fact, most other grounds for inadmissibility do not apply to SIJS.
Third, you can get your green card application fees waived. Fourth, you must stay in your home country to adjust your status. This means that when entering the US illegally/unsupervised, you do not need to worry about your adjustment of status. Unfortunately, SIJS means you cannot apply for green cards for either parent.
Even if only one of your parents is violent or neglectful, you will not be able to get a green card for the other. It is basically like being an “orphan” for immigration purposes. There are a couple of things to remember when applying for a SIJS. First, your application is public.
If you get denied, USCIS will tell the government that the kid is in the country illegally. Second, USCIS will use the info in your application for removal proceedings. This rarely happens, but it can happen if the kid has a bad criminal record or anything else that counts as a “security risk.”
Immigration law is not always clear on how to look for “red flags,” so it is really vital to get an immigration attorney in Ozone Park to look at your petition to see if you are eligible and what kind of risks you could face when applying. If you fail to look at certain things, it could result in deportation.
Who is eligible for SIJS?
You must meet specific criteria to be eligible for SIJS if you are a minor. You must be under 21 years old, unmarried, and declared a dependent in juvenile court. The Family Court has to take jurisdiction over your petition, and you must show that you cannot reunite with either of your parents because of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or any other similar reason.
Also, you must establish that it is not in your best interest to return to your home country or your last residence.
The SIJS application process
There are three steps in the SIJS application process, and an experienced immigration attorney in Ozone Park can help you through each.
1. The court phase
Only if one or both parents are found to be abusing, neglecting, or abandoning a child can a child be granted SIJS. Also, SIJS is only granted if a court determines that returning home is not in the child’s best interest. The court rules and procedures vary by state. If you are a child who needs SIJS, you will usually enter the court system in one of three ways.
First, a child can report the abuse or neglect to the cops or child welfare. The case will then go to the juvenile court to decide if the kid should be turned into a state ward or put in a private home. If the child is an immigrant, this is the right time to consider SIJS when presenting the child’s case.
An immigration attorney in Ozone Park can help you take care of it. Another way is a non-abusive parent (or other family member) filing for custody of a child in a divorce case or in a paternity case, where the other parent is accused of abusing, neglecting, or abandoning the child.
Again, a friend or family member can ask a judge to appoint them as the child’s legal guardian. This is usually done when the parents leave the kid with a friend or family member and stop caring for them. Still, there is no report before the police or child welfare.
No matter what the process is, the lawyer will have to show the court that the child is being abused, neglected, or abandoned and that it is not in the best interest of the child to go back to their home country. The child and their family members will likely be questioned and may need to give evidence in court.
Get as much evidence as you can to prove the abuse or abandonment, like medical records, reports from police and teachers, or reports from social workers. You may also need affidavits from people in the kid’s home country. The process can take a few weeks, and most states require parents and kids to be notified of the court proceedings in advance.
Some states may have special rules for serving notices to parents outside of the US.
2. The petition phase
A child can file an SIJS petition with USCIS after a court says it is not in the child’s best interest to go back to the parent’s home country. It is done using form I-360. You need a birth certificate and a copy of the court order.
The child has to fill out all the vital parts of the petition. This form is used for a lot of different immigration procedures. Kids over 14 must sign the petition, but younger kids can get a guardian.
You can file a petition while unmarried and as long as the court order is in effect. New rules in 2022 allow you to file a petition until you turn 21 if the court order only ends because you turned 18.
USCIS will review your form I-360 and any other evidence to see if you qualify for SIJS.
3. The adjustment process
If the USCIS approves your I-360 petition, you can go ahead and file for status adjustment using form I-485. You can file form I-485 simultaneously with your I-360 petition, but it will only be decided once you get SIJS. It usually takes 8-12 months from filing form I-485 to when the USCIS decides. If the USCIS need any more info, they will contact you.
If your I-485 application is approved, a green card will be issued. There are many advantages to getting a green card with SIJS, like it waives many issues that would stop an immigrant from getting one, like illegal entry, working without permission, and even public charges.
The process is long, so it is crucial to get an immigration attorney in Ozone Park to help you.
Suppose you are responsible for an undocumented immigrant child. In that case, it is crucial to talk to an immigration attorney in Ozone Park who can guide you through the legal process. You will need to keep a few things in mind for your case. Some immigration options that work for you now might not work for you later.
At Gehi and Associates, we have a skilled team of immigration attorneys in Ozone Park who can help you determine if SIJS might be a good option for you.
Our immigration attorney understands the twists and turns of the SIJS application process and can help you successfully go through every phase without any issues. Do you have any questions about the SIJS process? Connect with us right away!
1. Is SIJS a long-term solution?
No. If you get the SIJS, it is not the end of the road. It is just that it protects you from possible deportation and makes getting a US green card easier.
2. If I have a SIJS, can I work?
No, once you get a SIJS, you cannot work. If you are 18 or older and applying for a green card, you can also get employment authorization. If you are under 18, you have to go to school. Schools have rules about how much work you can do. You might be able to get a school work permit and an immigration work permit.
3. Can I go on tours outside the US with a SIJS?
If you only have a SIJS, you can leave or return to the US once you get a green card. But if you are out of the US for more than half a year, it could mess up your permanent residency.
4. Can I sponsor my relatives to the US while on a SIJS?
You cannot bring your loved ones into the US while on a SIJS. You cannot even apply for your parents to come to the US, even if one parent was abusive and the other one was not.
5. Must the child be in court during the SIJS process?
Yes, the court wants the guardian and the kid to be there. That is because the court usually wants both (the petitioners) to give evidence in court.