The Special Immigration Juvenile (SIJ) petition is one of the few U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) applications that focus on undocumented kids’ path towards legality inside the United States. The SIJ status is designed for undocumented kids who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or abandonment and can’t be with their parents due to those reasons. The SIJ status was established during the Immigration Act of 1990 to alleviate undocumented kids whose specific needs had not been addressed during previous immigration laws.
The process towards SIJ status is also a particular one that includes several courses of action, including a mandate authorized by a state juvenile court. You will need an immigration attorney for victims of abuse to file an SIJ case for you. They will able to represent you (or the applicant) accordingly to obtain the necessary documentation for USCIS.
Obtaining SIJ status can potentially change a young individual’s life for the better. One of the first steps of the process involves issuing a court order by a Texan juvenile court. You want to get everything right the first time around. It is best advised you contact an SIJ immigration Attorney to handle the whole process.
The Gonzalez Law Group is located in Houston, TX, at your convenience. Our legal team has a broadened experience in the immigration system. We can help you get started on your case. Call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free consultation.
The Gonzalez Law Group works with clients in Harris County and near-by cities including Houston, Pearland, Baytown, La Porte, Galveston, and many more.
Overview of SIJ
Special Immigration Juvenile Court Requirements
Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status differentiates from other immigration status applications because it requires paperwork outside of U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A state juvenile court, in this case, Texas needs to get involved. One of the primary requirements of an SIJ status is that the juvenile court declares the juvenile (applicant) as a dependent. A juvenile court is the only entity with the right authority and knowledge to be able to decide on the applicant’s family status. Declaring juvenile dependency only comes about when there is enough evidence shown in court. For that to happen, the following must be true:
Note: Only a juvenile court can determine satisfactory requirements for juvenile dependency
- The child (applicant) has suffered parental abuse, neglect, or abandonment, or other viable circumstances.
- The child’s (applicant) welfare is at risk if he or she keeps living with parents
- Reunification (the point in which the court finds that the child is safe to return to live with his or her parents) must also not be an option.
In a Texas juvenile court, an individual is considered a juvenile if under the age of 18. Therefore, to qualify for a court-assigned custody in Texas, the applicant must be 17 or younger. The child’s custody can be assigned to another family member or individual, or state agency. Keep in mind, the applicant’s court order does not guarantee anything as far as a change in immigration status or protection from deportation for the applicant. The court order and the USCIS filing process are entirely separate from each other, but one is necessary to initiate the other.
To file for a Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) application with USCIS, an applicant has to be under the age of 21 at the time of filing. Remember, even though USCIS states the filing age as under 21, a Texas juvenile court declares juvenile dependency only to individuals under 18. Once the SIJ application gets approved, USCIS will indicate visa availability (usually level EB-4). If there is a visa available for the applicant upon their approval of the SIJ application, or shortly after, then the applicant has the opportunity to apply for permanent legal status.
There are a few things to consider when filing an SIJ application. Following the SIJ process step by step doesn’t guarantee permanent legal status or any legal status inside the United States. Factors to consider that might make it for a more extensive and somewhat wary process is if, at the time of filing an SIJ application, the applicant is already in removal proceedings by USCIS. Other factors include the applicant’s criminal background such as any previous charges or convictions. Finally, visas might not always be available right away, making it a prolonged wait for SIJ applicants to file for permanent legal status.
Regardless, an SIJ status is still an opportunity for undocumented kids to remain in the United States with a legal status and ultimately have a chance at a better life. This is why hiring an immigration lawyer specializing in victims of abuse is necessary. An immigration lawyer comprehends immigration laws, and they also empathize with the process and can offer intuitive support for you and your loved one.
SIJS Additional Information | USCIS – The USCIS is the official guide to any immigration process within the U.S. This page provides the application documents needed to file for SIJ status. It also details the step by step process and any further documents necessary.
SIJ Background Page – This page provides a general background of the SIJ status as one of the immigrations statuses within the victims of abuse phases. The process of SIJ is examined from a broader perspective. The journal discusses the power of the SIJ status in aiding undocumented immigrant children.
Contact Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Immigration Lawyers in Houston, TX
Because our firm has an overall extensive list of practice areas, including child custody and immigration law, we have an ample perspective on Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) cases. You will be in the right hands when working with us.
The Gonzalez Law Group understands the stress and emotional toll the SIJ process can take on the applicants. We can work with clients through the process and be sensitive to their concerns and feelings. Our firm won’t leave you in the dark and give you a step by step analysis of the SIJ process based on your specific situation.
Call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free consultation with The Gonzalez Law Group today. Our attorneys work with clients in the counties of Harris County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, and more.