What are the Eligibility Requirements to File for a Special Immigrant Juvenile?

When a young immigrant child has been abused, abandoned, or neglected they may be eligible for a Special Immigrant Juvenile visa. These Special Immigrant Juveniles, otherwise known as SIJs, through the green card process may be able to stay in the United States lawfully by obtaining permanent residence. There are specific eligibility requirements that must be met to secure a green card. 

If you are filing for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, you can have help throughout the process. Often, working through various aspects of the United States immigration system can be confusing, complex, and lengthy. To better navigate the complicated process, an attorney can be quite beneficial. In South Carolina, our Fort Mill family-based immigration attorney at The Law Office of Mariana Toledo-Hermina, LLC can help you with securing Special Immigrant Juvenile status.

Eligibility Requirements for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

When applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, the following four factors must exist:

  1. The applicant must be younger than 21 years of age when they file.
  2. The applicant must reside in the United States when they file their petition and they also must be living in the country when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services make their determination.
  3. The applicant may not be married when they file their petition and they must remain unmarried while USCIS determines their eligibility.
  4. The applicant possesses a juvenile court order that explains and verifies their abandonment and/or abusive/neglectful home situation and  determines that it is not in the best interest of the young person to be returned to their or their parents’ country of nationality or last habitual residence.

Immigrant children who require court intervention and are dependent on a state agency for care because of their tumultuous and precarious home situation must have this made clear and shown to the court. It will be necessary to obtain the Special Immigrant Juvenile Green Card. 

Types of Child Abuse

Child abuse can happen in many different ways and it is not always easy to tell when a child has been subject to harm or is actively experiencing it. Though, in general, there are four categories where abuse can exist:

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional 
  3. Abandonment
  4. Neglect
  5. Sexual

The vulnerability of children makes them an easier target for predators to take advantage of. In fact, just under 15% or one out of every seven children in the United States experience some type of abuse. When abuse is happening, children often struggle with daily life and as a result, have a harder time connecting with others for meaningful relationships, excelling in school, and may suffer developmental delays or impairments. But the damages do not just stop there after a young child is removed from an abusive environment. The long-term ramifications over the course of a person’s life can persist and greatly affect an abused person’s ability to be functional, prosperous, and healthy.

Child abuse is not one-dimensional, meaning that a child does not have to necessarily be physically touched and harmed for abuse to be present. When a child is being hurt, if they are experiencing threats against their wellbeing, or are in fear of likely future harm, then the child is a victim of abuse.

No child should be subject to living in an abusive environment. Still, many are living in this exact situation and suffering without assistance. Children may have a hard time figuring out how to remedy their situation and seek the support and resources they need on their own. Meeting with a legal professional that is trained in immigration law in the United States is one way to learn more about what options could be available, such as the Special Immigrant Juvenile Green Card.

SIJ Considerations

There are some considerations to think about when petitioning for SIJ status such as:

  • You will be unable to work through your SIJ approval but you may be able to apply for a work permit.
  • SIJ status does not permit you the ability to bring your other family members into the country.
  • You will need permanent residency if you want to travel in and out of the United States. SIJ status alone will not allow you to do this.

Speak to Immigration Attorney Toledo-Hermina Today

Being able to disconnect from abusive parents can help a child escape a dangerous and unstable situation. For help with the SIJ process, you can count on the experienced South Carolina area immigration attorney at The Law Office of Mariana Toledo-Hermina, LLC. Our legal team can help you and will be right there with you throughout every step of the process. Call today to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

The United States immigration system can be arduous and involved, but you do not have to try and work through it alone. Call The Law Office of Mariana Toledo-Hermina, LLC.

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