Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status is another type of immigration classification available to certain children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents. Obtaining SIJ status consists of a two-step process. First, the child needs to have a custody order signed by a judge from the state family court awarding custody of the child to an individual based on the abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a parent. In order to qualify for SIJ in the state of Texas, the child needs to be under the age of 18 in order to be able to go through the state court system to get the custody order. Second, once the custody order has been granted in state court, an immigration application will be submitted on behalf of the child to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for SIJ status before the child turns 21 years old. SIJ status provides a path to residency for the child. Once SIJ status for the child has been approved and there is an immigrant visa immediately available for their preference category, he or she can file their immigration application to become a Legal Permanent Resident.
In our firm’s most recent SIJ case, the family court judge granted our custody order on the basis of abandonment and neglect and found that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his home country of Guatemala. Our client was abandoned by both his parents, and his uncle now has legal custody of him with this order that was granted. Now we will be able to proceed with this order to seek SIJ status with immigration so that this child can begin his path to obtaining legal permanent residency in the United States.
The SIJ process can be an extremely emotional process for children since it deals with abuse, abandonment, or neglect by their parents. Our attorneys have the experience and expertise in handling these types of cases with favorable outcomes, allowing children from other countries to be able to grow up in the U.S. with access to great education and away from the daily fear of violence and gang recruitment in their home countries. We will do our absolute best to fight for these kids so that they are able to stay in the U.S. in the custody of people who can care for them and provide for them.