Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

Non-citizen children who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by a parent might be able to get a green card through “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” (SIJS). 

Some of the requirements to potentially qualify for SIJ status for a child are:

  • The applicant must be under age 21 (in some states, the cutoff age is 18);
  • The applicant must be unmarried;
  • The applicant has to be present in the U.S.;
  • It is not in the best interest of the applicant to be returned to their country of nationality. 

A family member or friend, or nonabusive parent can petition the court to be the child’s guardian. 

Once the child gets a valid state court order, they can petition USCIS to grant them SIJ status. After the SIJ status is approved, the child might have to wait before applying for a green card if there is no visa available to them in their EB-4 immigrant visa category.

Some advantages to obtaining SIJ status are that the child does not need to have entered the U.S. legally and does not need to show any means of financial support. These factors are barriers to most other types of green card approvals.

A disadvantage of this option is that a child who is granted SIJ status is never legally permitted to file any immigrant petition for either parent. Even if only one parent was abusive or neglectful, the child will still never be able to petition for the nonabusive parent to get a green card.

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