Many juveniles come to the United States with their families with hopes of becoming lawful citizens and pursuing their goals and dreams in the country. Unfortunately, sometimes, family circumstances make achieving those goals difficult or impossible.
U.S. immigration law allows individuals under the age of 21 to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). This is a status specifically designed for those who have been abandoned, abused or neglected by their parents.
Requirements for SIJS
SIJS status provides a way for individuals under 21 to become a legal permanent resident of the United States. You must meet several requirements to qualify for SIJS.
If you are interested in obtaining SIJS, in addition to being under the age of 21, you must:
- Be unmarried
- Be a dependent in juvenile court
- Show that reunification with one or both of your parents is not a feasible option
You must also be living in the United States at the time of your application for SIJS. If you were previously married, you must show that the marriage ended due to annulment, divorce or death.
Proving your dependency status
To show that you are a dependent in juvenile court, you must submit a court order issued by a California court stating that you are a dependent of the court.
This means a state agency, or someone appointed by the court, has legal custody over you, and that your parents do not. Additionally, the order must contain a statement that due to abuse, neglect or abandonment, you cannot be reunited with your parents and remaining in the United States is in your best interest.
Helping you every step of the way
Coming to a new country brings many challenges. When you are experiencing troubles within your family, or your family abandons you, you may feel lost and hopeless.
Furthermore, being in the custody of a court in a new country can be scary and intimidating. Immigration attorneys can provide you with compassionate advice and guide you through each step toward becoming a legal citizen, allowing you the opportunity for a better future.