Tag Archives: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – when to close the dependency case

Q: I’m working with a youth who is trying to get Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Once the Department of Child and Family Services files for SIJS and it’s “pending” can we close the dependency case?

A: No, the dependency case must remain open until the child receives their green card, unless the court’s jurisdiction is terminated due to the youth’s age (for example, when the youth turns 18 or 21).

Citation: 8 C.F.R. § 204.11(c)(5)

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Minors charged with sex crimes, impact on immigration status

Q: If an undocumented minor is charged with a sexual crime, does that automatically disqualify him or her from applying for some type of immigration status (e.g. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U Visa)?

A: If the undocumented minor is charged with a sex crime in delinquency proceedings, that would not disqualify them from applying to get some kind of immigration status that they are otherwise eligible for (e.g. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U Visa). Delinquency adjudications are not considered convictions for immigration purposes and thus do not carry the same dire consequences. However, an adjudication for a sex crime would be considered as part of the discretionary determination for whether the child merits immigration relief, so it could prejudice their application even though it won’t present an outright bar. Youth with serious delinquency adjudications should consult with an experienced immigration attorney before applying for any type of immigration benefit.

Citation: Matter of Devison, 22 I&N Dec. 1362 (BIA 2000).

Thank you to Rachel Prandini of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center for the answer to this question. ILRC has a wide range of information on immigration, including publications and trainings on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. To learn more, contact Rachel at rprandini@ilrc.org

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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status & sponsorship

Q: I am a social worker helping a young person apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Once she receives it and later becomes a U.S. citizen, she would like to sponsor her sister to immigrate to the U.S. Is that allowable under SIJS?

A: Yes, once she becomes a U.S. citizen (which generally she can apply for after 5 years with her green card), she will be able to sponsor her sister. SIJS does not allow her to ever sponsor her biological or prior adoptive parents.

Citation: 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J)(iii)(II).

For more information about immigration and child welfare, listen to a June 23, 2017 training conducted by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in partnership with John Burton Advocates for Youth.

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Impact of cap on SIJS visas on foster youth

Q: I’ve heard that there is a cap on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visas for minors from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. What does this mean for youth from these countries who have entered the child welfare system and will soon turn 21?

A: Yes, there is a cap on the number if SIJS visas and according to the U.S. State Department, it has been reached for children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico for FY2016. However, the Center for the Study of Social Policy makes the following recommendations for assisting youth who are impacted by the SIJS visa cap:

  • Continue to file for SIJS (Form I-360) on behalf of youth from these countries. The current cap on SIJS visas should not prohibit child welfare workers and practitioners, including attorneys and guardians ad litem, from moving forward and filing for SIJS.
  • Ensure the proper findings have been issued by the court and all forms (I-360 and I-485) have been filed. To be eligible for SIJS, the appropriate court findings and paperwork must be filed before the child or youth’s 21st birthday. It is imperative that practitioners and advocates continue to seek the necessary findings in court and file the appropriate forms to move forward with petitioning for lawful permanent residency once the cap is lifted in October 2016 (when the new fiscal year begins). It can be difficult to get a case in front of the court once a child or youth has exited the foster care system so having the appropriate findings issued during an open foster care case is imperative.
  • Ensure that SIJS eligible children and youth are granted Deferred Action while awaiting the availability of SIJS visas. The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that it is approving Deferred Action, which is temporary relief from deportation, for SIJS visa-eligible applicants. By obtaining Deferred Action, these children and youth will be exempt from deportation for two years and will be eligible to apply for Employment Authorization.
  • Inform children and youth petitioning for SIJS that a change to their circumstances can impact their eligibility for an SIJS visa. Despite having the appropriate finding and forms completed, youth may be found no longer eligible if they get married or are arrested.
  • Connect youth to community-based agencies that can provide support and specific guidance related to pursuing permanent legal residency once the cap is lifted.
  • Ensure youth have filed for health insurance under the ACA or other health care coverage.
  • Inform and connecting youth to adult education and higher education opportunities.
  • File all the appropriate forms to receive authorization for employment.

Citation: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence , Center for the Study of Social Policy

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