Special Immigrant (“SI”) Juvenile (“SIJ”) Petition (“SIJP”)
Section 101(a)(27)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA or Act), as amended, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J), permits the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant special immigrant juvenile classification to certain aliens whom a juvenile court has declared to be dependent on the court, or whom the juvenile court has committed to or placed under the custody of a State agency, department, individual, or entity. The juvenile court must determine that reunification of the alien with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar basis under State law. In addition, it must be determined in administrative or judicial proceedings that the return of the alien to the alien’s or the alien’s parent’s country of nationality or last habitual residence would not be in the alien’s best interest.
Eligibility Criteria (§ 235(d) of the TVPRA (“Traffic Victims Protection Reauthorization Act,” Public Law 110–457, 122 Stat. 5044 (Dec. 23, 2008)) which amended INA § 101(a)(27)(J)(i) & proposed regulations: 76 Fed. Reg. 54985-54986).
- Is present in the United States;
- Is under 21 years of age at the time of filing;
- Is unmarried;
- Has been declared dependent on a juvenile court, or has been legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, an agency or department of a State, or an individual or entity appointed by a State or juvenile court. Such dependency, commitment, or custody must be in effect at the time of filing and continue through the time of adjudication, unless the age of the petitioner prevents such continuation;
- A juvenile is dependent upon the court if he or she “has been the subject of judicial proceedings or administrative proceedings authorized or recognized by the juvenile court.” (8 C.F.R. § 204.11(c)(6); proposed rule 8 C.F.R. § 204.11(b)(6), 76 Fed. Reg. 54985).
- In MA, courts that could exercise jurisdiction over juveniles include the Juvenile Court, the Probate and Family Court, and, in some circumstances, the District court.
- Is the subject of a State or juvenile court determination that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under State law;
- Has been the subject of a determination in judicial or administrative proceedings that it would not be in the alien’s best interest to be returned to the alien’s or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence; and
- Obtains consent from the Secretary of Homeland Security to classification as a special immigrant juvenile.
Presentation slides by KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) on Special Immigration Juvenile Status by Laura Nally.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
- The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides new populations with the opportunity to maximize their potential in the United States. The programs provide people in need with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society.
- Find Resources and Contacts in Your State
- State of Massachusetts - Programs and Services by Locality
- Unaccompanied Children's Services
- Unaccompanied Children Released to Sponsors by County
State Court Procedures:
- Obtaining the order for special findings is the first step and prerequisite for an SIJ case.
- Determine how, given the facts of the child’s situation, to present the child in state court.
- Possible options are a petition for guardianship in the Probate and Family Court, a complaint for paternity, custody, or child support, or for divorce, a care and protection claim, etc.
- State Juvenile, Family and Trial Courts
- Websites of Juvenile Court and Probate and Family Court provide necessary forms and rules and procedures.
- Guardianship Information by State by BRYCS (Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services)
- MA Department of Children & Families
- Second Step for SIJ.
- File SIJ Petition to USCIS for classification as a “special immigrant” under the provisions relating to juveniles. If the petition is approved, the child may then file an application for adjustment of status before the USCIS or the Immigration Court of the Executive Office for Immigration Review.