Special immigrant juveniles are children who are the victims of abuse or abandonment in their home country and have been declared dependent by a juvenile court in a United States jurisdiction. Upon attaining special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), a child becomes eligible for an SIJ Visa, which provides a path to lawful permanent residency - a green card.
What are the characteristics of SIJ status?
At a minimum, a special immigrant juvenile
Is under 21 years of age
Has been declared "dependent" by a U.S. juvenile court
Has been deemed by the court to be "eligible for long-term foster care"
Has had a U.S. court declare that he/she would be harmed if returned to his/her country of origin
Further information about SIJ status may be found in the Code of Federal Regulations in 8 CFR § 204.11.
How does one obtain a U.S. visa based upon SIJ status?
A visa based upon SIJ status requires two broad steps:
An adult willing to serve as the child's guardian must obtain an order from a U.S. Juvenile Court based upon the child's dependent status
A petition must be filed with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service for the SJIS child.
Either or both of these steps are best completed by an experienced attorney.