SIJS (Juvenile Visa) and Dependency

Guide for Parents and Guardians

What is the Juvenile Visa (“SIJS”)?

SIJS is a legal status created to protect young people which have been abused, abandoned or have suffered negligence by one or two of their parents or legal guardians.

How and who qualifies for SIJS?

Under the law, a minor qualifies for SIJS if he meets the prerequisite to get a dependency order from a juvenile court in the state. This means that there are two (2) processes:

First process:

It will be necessary for a state court first to find and decide that the reunification of the minor with one or both parents is not viable because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment or a similar basis under state law, and that is not in the best interest of the minor to return to his country.

This means that as minimum parental failure must be demonstrated deliberately by negligence or disability, to take the necessary measures and to provide a child with minimally adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, stability and development. Emotional and physical, or other essential care.

Examples:

  • Children are not allowed to go to school, even if the siblings are allowed to.
  • Parents unable to protect the child from gang violence.
  • The child is abandoned if “is left without any provision of support and without any person responsible for maintaining care, custody, and control.”
  • The child went abroad to work and support the family, but the parents did not have any relationship with the child
  • Parents let the child go without a companion to the U.S.

In Georgia this is done by the state juvenile court in the county where the child resides and its sponsor. To meet this prerequisite The minor needs:

1. Be a minor as defined under state law, usually a person who has less than 18 years;
a. If the child is less than 2 months old from their 18th birthday, it will be difficult (though not impossible) for this process to be completed before the child is of age.
2. Be single (not married);
3. Be enrolled and attending school;
4. Be in United States without his mother and father;
5. The child must be in long-term foster care, or in the legal guardian of an adult present in the U.S. which will be the petitioner and will have to attend to the Juvenile Court Hearing;
6. The petition has to be based on the statement by the minor and/or petitioner that there was abuse, neglect and/or abandonment by the parents.
7. The parents of the minor will have to sign a sworn statement to a notary in their country by establishing that they are warned of the court process, the date of the hearing and discharged their rights to the child because they do not want reunification. This document will be provided by the lawyer to send abroad.
8. Once the statement has been signed and notarized by the parents, they will have to enclose a copy of their identity card (ex. Consular ID or Passport) and give it to the lawyer. The original document has to be returned by expedited mail to the attorney’s office. It is recommended that you first send by fax or email in case you lose or the original document does not arrive in time to the lawyer.

Second process:

Only after having the order of dependency is that you can proceed to this Second Process in which form I-360 must be completed and sent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”). The following is required to be eligible:

  1. The order of dependency;
  2. Be under the age of 21 at the time of filing your application;
  3. Be single (cannot be married before submitting the application);
  4. Stay in the United States during the entire process;
  5. No reunification with their parents;

What are the benefits of getting SIJS?

1. You can work after receiving work Permit;
2. You can travel outside the United States after you get your residency (Green Card)
3. You can be apply for citizenship after the age of 18 and after being a permanent residence for 5 years.
a. Note: If you are granted permanent residency through the SIJS process, you cannot make an application to help your parents receive immigration status.