Attorney for the CASA Program
You’re looking for information about US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy, huh? I heard you’re the one with a special case. These don’t come up very often, but when they do, it’s super important to know the options—you’re dealing with a young girl’s life. I’ve done a little research and it turns out that Maria may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).
Juveniles who are under the supervision of juvenile court (both delinquency and dependency cases) can apply for lawful immigration status if the court order has specific language. They must apply for both special immigrant juvenile status and for permanent residency (the “green card,” which actually isn’t green at all).
Maria is in good shape because she is under 18 years of age, which can be the cutoff for these applications. (In some cases, a youth can apply up to the age of 21.) Maria can easily fulfill most of the requirements for SIJS, as she is:
- Under the jurisdiction of juvenile court.
- “Deemed eligible for long-term foster care” (legal language to indicate that she cannot be reunited with her parents).
- In her case, the court’s findings were based on abuse, neglect or abandonment, rather than for the purpose of seeking immigration status.
- And it is not in her best interest to return to her home country.
Now, this final requirement may be hard to prove in Maria’s case because she has a relative in El Salvador willing and available to take her.
However, if all these requirements can be met, Maria will need an order from a juvenile court judge specifically stating that all of the above listed findings required for SIJS have been made. With that order in hand, her attorney can proceed with the SIJS application.
What I’m about to tell you is really, really important. This is kind of an all-or- nothing deal. If Maria applies for special immigrant juvenile status and is turned down, ICE may attempt to deport her from the United States. Therefore, it will be best to not make the application for SIJS unless it is likely to be successful.
If SIJS is granted, there will be additional requirements related to getting a “green card,” Permanent Resident Status. If Maria successfully obtains her green card, she will be able to work legally, travel in and out of the country and, after five years, apply for citizenship.
- What are your follow-up questions?