Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a federal law that assists qualifying undocumented children in obtaining lawful permanent residency. We can assist the parent or care provider of an unaccompanied minor to identify if the minor qualifies for SIJS. Our firm advocates vigorously on behalf of unaccompanied minors, which unlawfully enter the U.S. The SIJS process commences at the juvenile court in the state that has jurisdiction over the minor. Typically, a parent files a petition for custody in the juvenile court to seek a judgment of custody by the judge in the juvenile court. Alternatively, if there is no responsible parent, an individual files a petition for guardianship in the juvenile court to seek to be the legal guardian of the minor.

A judge in the juvenile court must find that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The juvenile court must also determine that it is not in the child’s best interest to be returned to his or her home country. Upon the necessary orders being granted and issued a minor may file a Petition for Special Immigrant status with an Application for Adjustment of Status to lawful permanent residency. The process may be further complicated if the minor was detained at entry and is also in removal proceedings. It is important to behave with appropriate diligence if minor is 17 years or older as most state juvenile courts will only give a minor until the age of 18 to perform all the necessary steps. Maryland, however, has increased the age to 21. It is of important to consult an attorney as soon as possible so the SIJS process can commence and be completed in a timely manner.