There are several pathways to citizenship and here at Puntier Law we pride ourselves on our commitment to helping over a million immigrants achieve legal status by staying up to date on the latest developments in immigration legislation. Lately, we have noticed that a lot of people are not aware of legislation that exists to protect immigrant minors. If you or a loved one is a minor and are in the United States in need of protection by a juvenile court because of, abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent, you may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. If SIJ classification is granted, you may qualify for lawful permanent residency (also known as getting a Green Card). Here is what you need to know about how Special Immigrant Juvenile visas work.
What are special immigrant juvenile visas and who qualifies for them?
Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs) are foreign national children in the United States who have been declared dependent on a state juvenile court or who have been placed under the care of a state agency or department after having been abused, neglected, or abandoned. To qualify for an SIJ visa, a child must be unmarried and under 21 years of age. In addition, the child must demonstrate that it would not be in his or her best interest to return to his or her home country. According to the latest from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), these are the qualifications:
|Be under 21 years of age.||Only at the time you file the SIJ petition (Form I-360).|
|Be currently living in the United States. You cannot apply from outside the country to come to the United States on SIJ classification.||Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.|
|Be unmarried. This means you either:
||Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.|
|Have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the United States which finds that:
Note: Some juvenile courts may only be able to issue a juvenile court order if you are under 18 years of age.
|Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
EXCEPTIONS: You do not need to currently be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court that issued your order if the court’s jurisdiction ended solely because:
|Be eligible for USCIS consent. This means that you must have sought the juvenile court order to obtain relief from abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law and not primarily to obtain an immigration benefit.||At the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.|
|Have written consent from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to the court’s jurisdiction if:
||At the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
Please see the HHS website for instructions on obtaining HHS consent.
Special immigrant juvenile visas can lead to residency
If granted an SIJ visa, the child will be eligible for permanent residency in the United States. Special Immigrant Juvenile visas are an important means of protecting foreign national children who have been victims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. By providing a path to permanent residency, SIJ visas give these children the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety and security within the borders of the United States.
How do you apply for a special immigrant juvenile visa?
At Puntier Law, we can assist you and your loved ones with the application process for a juvenile visa. We will begin by evaluating any evidence that you have for us to demonstrate that you meet the qualifications. The benefit of an immigrant juvenile (SIJ) visa is for immigrant children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent. Our attorneys at Puntier Law have managed many cases like this and can guide you through the ins and outs of every step. We would be honored to continue doing our part to help more abused and neglected immigrant children who need a safe place to live and thrive obtain legal status.
What are the benefits of a special immigrant juvenile visa?
Once a minor is able to obtain a court order declaring that it is in their best interest to remain in the United States, an immigrant juvenile (SIJ) visa will likely be granted as long as they meet the requirements. After that, beneficiaries are eligible for a green card, and eventually, they can apply for citizenship. The process can be lengthy from the moment you apply for the SIJ visa to the moment the child is granted citizenship. However, for children who qualify and don’t have faster alternatives to citizenship, it provides a much-needed opportunity for young immigrants to build a life in the United States free from abuse and neglect.
How to get help if you need it with your application or during the process?
If a child is without the support of one or both parents we are here to help. Our Attorneys at Puntier Law Firm can help you with your application to get the best possible outcome for the child’s case. Puntier law Firm will work with you to ensure that you understand the process and are comfortable with the steps that need to be taken. Puntier law Firm will also be there for you if you need help during the process or have any questions. Puntier law Firm has a team of experienced professionals who are ready to help you every step of the way. Our founder, Noemi Puntier is an avid advocate for all immigrants and has been featured in media outlets as a trusted authority on immigration topics including immigrant juvenile (SIJ) visas. Contact Puntier law Firm today to get started on your application.