Special Immigrant Juveniles

a potential remedy for the 2014 crisis of unaccompanied minors

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A child declared a dependent of the state by a family court may apply for a green card even if she entered without permission and violated her status provided that she cannot be reunited with a parent because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment

Children who cannot be reunited with their parents may be eligible for "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” or SIJS.  A SIJ may petition using form I-360 and then apply to adjust status and obtain permanent residence.  They are not barred from adjustment by an illegal entry provided that they are under age 21 and unmarried.

To qualify, they must first be processed through a state family court or agency and declared a dependent of the court or legally place the child with a state agency, a private agency, or a private person and find that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his home country.  The factors the family court judge should consider to determine if it will be in the child's best interest to remain in the United States include the family and community support system in the United States and in the child's home country, the child's emotional well-being and psychological health, medical resources and educational opportunities.  the child cannot be reunited with a parent because of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or a similar reason under state law.  The child may adjust status to permanent resident even though he entered without inspection, is unlawfully present, and even if he made a false claim to citizenship.

If a child is granted SIJ status, she may never later petition for her biological or prior adoptive parents.

The child may file the I-360 petition and I-485 application to adjust status at the same time.  Memo, Yates, Assoc. Dir. Operations, USCIS, HQADN 70/23 (May 27, 2004).

INA 245(h)(2)(A) through (B) provides that none of the following grounds of inadmissibility apply to special immigrant juveniles:

 Ground of Inadmissibility

INA Section

Public Charge

INA 212(a)(4)

Labor Certification

INA 212(a)(5)(A)

Aliens present without admission or parole

INA 212(a)(6)(A)

Misrepresentation including false claim of US citizenship

INA 212(a)(6)(C)


INA 212(a)(6)(D)

Immigrants not in possession of a valid unxpired visa, etc.

INA 212(a)(7)(A)

Aliens unlawfully present

INA 212(a)(9)(B)


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