Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status is reserved for non-U.S. citizen children in the United States who may need humanitarian protection because they have been abused, abandaned, or neglected by a parent. Qualifying for SIJ may allow children to apply for lawful permanent resident status immediately. To be eligible, the child must be under unmarried, 21 years old at the time of filing, physically present in the United States, and have a qualifying juvenile state court order. Our Tallahassee immigration lawyers have experience in the family and dependency courts obtaining qualifying juvenile state court orders in Florida for this purpose. To receive a juvenile court order, the court must decide on the following conditions: 1. The child is a dependent of the court or legally place them with a state agency, private agency, or private person.
- It is not in the child’s best interest to return to their home country.
- The child cannot be reunited with parents because of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or a similar reason under law.
After filing the necessary forms, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will either send a Notice of Action showing the filing date and receipt number or return forms and documents to the applicant due to mistakes. If the child is 14 or older, they will receive an appointment to give fingerprints and take photographs. All SIJ applicants must be interviewed, however, the child may be able to waive the interview if it would place specific hardships on the them. It is important for your Tallahassee immigration attorney to understand all of the details regarding the immigrant child’s history to determine whether seeking SIJ status is an appropriate strategy. An attorney or representative may accompany the child for the interview. Aside from the findings of the court order, the child or the child’s attorney may submit separate evidence supporting the child’s case. While a juvenile court makes factual findings on the child’s situation and issues an order allowing the child to apply for SIJ status, it is ultimately USCIS that makes the final decision on eligibility. This decision is most often given at the interview.
An immigration attorney in Tallahassee is a valuable resource in applying for SIJ states for many reasons. Due to changing laws and the fact that Congress can change the definition of a Special Immigrant Juvenile, it is imperative to be familiar with current immigration law. Furthermore, the forms required must be submitted accurately and in a timely manner, especially since a response may take up to 180 days and the age of the applicant can affect their eligibility.