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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

SIJ Immigration Lawyers in Georgia

Minor children who are neither citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States who have been subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). To be eligible for SIJS, a judge must determine that the applicant fits fundamental requirements and that reunification with one or both parents, as well as repatriation to his or her original country, are not realistic choices.

Petitioning for SIJ status is often the most effective and efficient initial step toward getting lawful permanent residency – a green card — that will let a young person remain in the US and eventually work, attend college, or pursue other aspirations and objectives.

The SIJ immigration lawyers at the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly (Kelly Can Help) combine their experience with a thorough understanding of the federal statutes that regulate SIJ status. We know how to develop a case so that our clients meet the requirements of USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other government agencies engaged in SIJ cases.

Our SIJ immigration lawyers have a lot of experience in SIJ cases and have helped a lot of kids who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Call our immigration law firm to talk to one of our competent immigration lawyers. 

What is Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Status?

The application procedure for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is unique among immigration remedies in that it necessitates the cooperation of a state's "juvenile court." Whereas other immigration remedies are handled primarily by federal immigration officials, a child seeking SIJS must first request that a state court judge make specific findings in the state where the child resides.

These conclusions include rulings that, among other things, reuniting with one or both parents is not feasible for the child due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other legal causes. The inclusion of state courts in the SIJS process reflects Congress' belief that an appropriate state court is best prepared to issue judgments about family law or child protection, which are areas of competence for state courts.

A minor must first receive an SIJS predicate order from an appropriate state juvenile court before filing her SIJS petition with USCIS. The state court will not be requested to award a kid valid immigration status; USCIS is entirely responsible for this. In the SIJS procedure, the state court's participation is limited to making the factual judgments required for SIJS eligibility.

Once an SIJS predicate order with these precise conclusions has been entered, the child may proceed to the immigration phase of the case by filing the SIJS petition to USCIS. The kid must apply for adjustment of status (I-485) to a legal permanent resident of the United States after adjudication and receiving an approved SIJS petition (I-360) from USCIS.

Who Qualifies for SIJ Status?

Non-citizen children and young adults who have been neglected, mistreated, or abandoned by their parents may be eligible for a green card (permanent residency in the United States) under the "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status" program.

The program can be a reasonably quick path to a green card for children who qualify. However, the procedure is complex and time-consuming, and it is best completed with the assistance of an attorney.

Because the application process must begin while the child is still a juvenile or minor under state law (before the age of 18 in most states, though it may be possible to apply for SIJS for young people over 18 depending on the legal definition of "child" in that state), it is critical to identify children and youth who may qualify before they are too old to benefit.

This is something that teachers, counselors, social workers, and youth probation officers should be aware of.

How to Determine Eligibility for SIJ Status?

The kid must be found to have been mistreated, neglected, or abandoned by a juvenile court, family court, or comparable state court. The court must either designate the child a "court dependant" or place them in the custody of a legal guardian, a state agency, or a family member.

The same court must also determine that returning to the parents' home country or habitual residence is not in the child's best interests.

Immigration officers cannot make this decision; a judge must make it in a court in the state where the kid resides.

Which kind of courts have the authority to make such a finding and what the legal criteria for abuse, neglect, or abandonment are, is a matter of state law that varies from state to state. Such orders are commonly issued by juvenile courts, family courts, and probate courts.

The names of such courts, as well as their authority, differ from state to state. This is one of the many reasons why hiring a lawyer to assist you in this process is a good option.

Only after acquiring the paperwork mentioned above can one go on to the immigration component of the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status application procedure, which entails petition approval and, finally, a green card (adjustment of status) from the USCIS.

How to Apply for Special Immigration Juvenile Status?

There are two essential processes that must be completed before two distinct courts in order to receive SIJ:

Get a Court Order From a Juvenile Court

To get special findings in Georgia, you will need to appear in front of the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live. Special findings must be ordered by a judge.

Your biological or prior adoptive parent(s) will not be entitled to obtain immigration benefits through you after these determinations are established.

Apply to USCIS for SIJ

You must file Form I-360 as well as the juvenile court's special order. You must also provide documentation of their age (for example, a birth certificate, a passport biographical page with the date of birth plainly readable, a cédula, etc.). An SIJ petition must be decided by USCIS within 180 days.

If you are not in Immigration Court, you can file for adjustment of status using Form I-485 at the same time. If you have an Immigration Court hearing, you must wait for USCIS to make a decision on your SIJ application before going to the Immigration Judge for a green card.

Please consult with our skilled SIJ immigration lawyers in Georgia to assist you through the procedure and present your case with the most relevant data.

How to Petition for SIJ Status Classification?

To apply for a green card under the Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification, you must fill out and submit Form I-360. Several other forms must also be requested and submitted in addition to Form I-360.

Form I-485, Application to Register for Permanent Residency or Adjust Status, must be filled out correctly. As part of the SIJ status and permanent residency application process, the petitions are performed simultaneously.

In addition to Form I-360, you will need to provide supporting papers for the following:

  • Evidence of your age by birth certificate, passport, or other official identity document issued by a foreign government
  • Juvenile court order
  • Form I-485, Application to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • Written consent from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Form G-28

Completing these forms might quickly turn into a hassle. Using the services of one of our skilled SIJ immigration lawyers will ensure that all documentation is done correctly and submitted to the USCIS on time.

How to Petition for Permanent Residency for SIJ Green Card?

If you want to apply for permanent residency or an adjustment of status in addition to your SIJ status, you can do so by submitting Form I-485.

However, until a child is classified as a special immigrant juvenile, it is impossible to tell whether or not they will be granted permanent status. As an SIJ immigrant, you may be eligible to save the fees of permanent residency by completing Form I-912.

If your petition is accepted and classified as an SIJ, you may be eligible for a Green Card by submitting Form I-485. Once you've applied for a Green Card, the USCIS will notify you of your formal receipt for filing.

If more documentation is necessary, you'll be notified by the USCIS. It usually takes six months for the USCIS to process your application.

What Are the Benefits of SIJ Status?

Our SIJ immigration lawyers in Georgia can explain all of the advantages that SIJ status may provide to an individual including the following:

  • SIJ waives a variety of inadmissibility concerns, such as illegal entry, employment without authorization, and falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, among others.
  • As a result, even if you entered the United States without being inspected (i.e., undocumented), you may still be eligible for a green card.
  • If you are awarded SIJ, you will be able to change your immigration status and get a green card.
  • Other advantages, like a Social Security Card and a driver's card, will be available to you.
  • As a green card holder, you'll be on your way to becoming a citizen of the United States.

Consult Our SIJ Immigration Lawyers Now

At the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly (Kelly Can Help), we approach each case on its own merits, adjusting solutions to the particular circumstances. Our SIJ immigration lawyers do not take shortcuts or use a template approach. We pay close attention to the smallest details, ensuring that applications are submitted and processed correctly and on schedule.

To put it another way, we're in this for the long haul. We don't give up easily because we know there's just too much on the line. Call our immigration lawyers now to get started on your immigration journey.

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Are you losing sleep because of your legal status? Worry no more! Our experienced immigration attorneys at The Law Office of Jeffrey B. Kelly can help you break free from your immigration problems. We will help you find the best possible way to live and work in the U.S. legally. Schedule an appointment with an experienced immigration lawyer in Georgia today!