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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

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Some children present in the United States without legal immigration status may be in need of humanitarian protection because they have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status is an immigration classification that may allow for these vulnerable children to immediately apply for lawful permanent resident status (“LPR” status or a “Green Card”).


A child must be unmarried, under 21 years of age at the time of filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), physically present in the United States, and have a qualifying juvenile court order. SIJ-eligible children may come from a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, children in federal custody in the U.S. without parents or legal guardians, children in a state’s child welfare system (for example, foster care), and children in the court-ordered custody of a state agency or individual. This can include adoption or guardianship.


Juvenile courts issue orders that help determine a child’s eligibility for SIJ status. A child cannot apply to USCIS for SIJ status without an order from a juvenile court. However, juvenile judges should note that providing an order does not grant SIJ status or a “Green Card” - only USCIS can grant or deny these benefits. The role of the court is to make factual findings based on state law about the abuse, neglect, or abandonment; family reunification; and best interests of the child.


A juvenile court is a court in the United States that has jurisdiction under state law to make judicial determinations about the custody and care of children. Examples include: juvenile, family, orphans, dependency, guardianship, probate and delinquency courts.

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