Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a U.S. immigration classification that allows undocumented immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents to apply for lawful permanent resident status (also known as a Green Card). If you or someone you know may be eligible for SIJS, visit this page to learn more about the eligibility requirements and application process.
To be eligible for SIJS, an individual must meet all of the following requirements:
- Be under the age of 21
- Be unmarried
- Be in the United States
- Have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents
- Be unable to return to their home country because of the abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Be dependent on a juvenile court in the United States
To apply for SIJS, an individual must file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow, or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition must be accompanied by supporting evidence, such as court documents, police reports, and medical records.
If the USCIS approves the I-360 petition, the individual will be able to apply for a Green Card. The Green Card application process can be complex and time-consuming, so it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Benefits of SIJS
SIJS provides a number of benefits to undocumented immigrants who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents. These benefits include:
- The ability to live and work legally in the United States
- The ability to apply for financial aid for college or other educational programs
- The ability to sponsor certain family members for immigration to the United States
- The ability to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of permanent residence
The Role of the Juvenile Court
The involvement of a juvenile court is crucial in the SIJS application process. The court’s determination that the child has suffered maltreatment and is in need of the court’s protection is a foundational requirement for the SIJS application. The court’s role helps establish the child’s eligibility for SIJS. It demonstrates that returning to their home country is not in their best interest due to the abuse, neglect, or abandonment they have experienced.
SIJS is an important immigration classification that provides undocumented immigrants who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents with the opportunity to live and work legally in the United States. If you or someone you know may be eligible for SIJS, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your options.