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Immigration for Children: Understanding SIJ Petitions

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2019 | Blog

There are certain times when children are eligible for a separate immigration status independent of another person. If mistreatment, malnourishment, or abandonment leave immigrant children incapable or unwilling to going home, they can submit a petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ). The process involves the help of an immigration attorney and a family law attorney. A family law attorney or an immigration attorney who is also a family law attorney is needed because part of the application process requires a State Order that only an attorney licensed to practice in the state the child resides in can obtain.

The Villegas Law Office, PLLC has extensive experience with SIJ petitions.  The attorney at Villegas Law Office, PLLC is licensed in the State of Texas and therefore can also represent the child in state court in order to obtain the state order.  We are passionate about helping immigrant children find safe and loving homes, which is why we are continuously working to adapt as the legal playing field changes.

Qualifications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

If a child is without legal status in the US, USCIS has provided a manner in which humanitarian protection may be obtained. To meet the criteria, the child must be to show that the child is:

  • Single
  • Under 21 years of age
  • Physically present in the U.S
  • Able to obtain a juvenile court order.

SIJ Immigration Petitions

When the state juvenile court order has obtained the required observations, your immigration attorney may request the status of SIJ on behalf of the child by submitting Form I-360. There is no fee to file this form. Additionally, there is no annual limit to the number of I-360 requests approved by the USCS.

Before making a decision, USCIS may request an interview with the petitioning juvenile or may simply grant or deny the I-360 petition. Sometimes USCIS does not grant the petitioner without asking the state juvenile court for further information on the process.

If USCIS chooses to grant the petition, it’s also important to remember that 1) if the juvenile is in deportation proceedings, the hearings are not prevented or revoked simply because the petition has been approved and 2) the juvenile has the right to request permanent residence through Form I-485, but only if a visa number is available immediately.

There are prerequisites for permanent residency that are independent of the SIJ status requirements. There is a form I-485 fee, but some people are entitled to submit the form without the fee. For juveniles who are in removal proceedings, the immigration court can adjust the status of a lawful permanent resident (I-485). Sometimes the court has a hearing to decide whether to reside and sometimes the proceedings are terminated so that USCIS can decide.

Contact an Attorney for SIJ Petitions

Getting a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status needs the help of an experienced lawyer who is comfortable in family court and familiar with the immigration process. Contact our team at (956) 412-0707 to determine how we can assist you.