Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a form of immigration relief available to children who have suffered neglect, abuse, or abandonment by one or both parents.

The first part of the process is to obtain an order of “special findings” from the Probate and Family Court.  In Massachusetts, under Mass General Laws c. 119 § 39M, a child can self-petition for this order through dependency proceedings. In Massachusetts, a child is “an unmarried person under the age of 21.”

After obtaining the order from the Probate and Family Court, the child can apply for a Special Immigrant Visa.  The child must apply for the visa before their 21st birthday and remain unmarried throughout the process.  When a child applies for the green card depends on a couple of factors.  The first factor is what country the child is from and the second factor is whether or not the child is in removal proceedings in the Immigration Court.

If the child is from a cap country, then they have to wait for the visa to become “current” on the visa bulletin. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has put a limit or cap on the amount of children from the following countries : Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  If the child is from any other non-cap country, they can apply for the green card at the same time as the visa, as long as they are not in removal proceedings.

If a child has a case before the Immigration Court, the judge has jurisdiction to make a decision about their green cards and the child has to apply for the visa and the green card separately.

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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status