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I’m 17 and abandoned. Now what can I do?


I’m 17 and abandoned. What can I do?

Question: I’m 17 and my mother died and my father abandoned me. What can I do? Is there any help for me?

Answer: Yes, There is what is known as a Special Immigrant Juvenile Petition A special provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows certain qualifying minors to petition for immigrant status as a Special Immigrant Juvenile. This provision is for the benefit of those aliens under 21 years of age who have been declared dependent on a juvenile court or placed under the custody of a government agency, who are eligible for long-term foster care and in whose best interest it is not to return to their home country.  

Question: What are the Requirements to Qualify as a Special Immigrant Juvenile?

Answer; To qualify as a Special Immigrant Juvenile, the applicant must meet the following criteria: First, you must be under 21 years of age. This requirement must be met not only at the time of filing but also at the time of adjudication of the immigrant petition. You must be unmarried and be present in the U.S. A special immigrant juvenile will be deemed to have been paroled regardless of how he entered the country. You must be declared dependent on a juvenile court, or placed under the custody of an agency or department of the State according with the state law. You must be deemed eligible by the juvenile court for long-term foster care due to abuse, neglect or abandonment and have received a determination through an administrative or judicial proceeding that it would be in the best interest of the alien not to be returned to his/her home country.

In addition to the requirements listed above, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must consent to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as it relates to the court determinations.

Question: So what does the Court in Juvenile Court have to order?
Answer: To file a petition as a Special Immigrant Juvenile, the alien must have a supporting Court Order that establishes that: The juvenile has been declared a dependent of the juvenile court or the court has placed the juvenile under the custody of a State agency or department, and the juvenile has been deemed eligible for long-term foster care due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. The Court Order will also preferably establish a specific finding of fact in support of the Order, sufficient to establish a basis for the USCIS express consent, and that it would be in the alien’s best interest not to be returned to the alien’s home country.  

SIJ Petition cannot be granted unless a determination has been made that it would not be in the best interest of the child to be returned to his home country.  This determination may be made by the juvenile court.  The USCIS strongly encourages juvenile courts to address this issue and to make such a determination.  Nevertheless, the law contemplates that other judicial or administrative bodies authorized or recognized by the juvenile court may make such a determination. If a particular juvenile court establishes or endorses an alternate process for this finding, a ruling from that process may satisfy the requirement.

Question: What does ‘long-term foster care’ mean?
Answer: Eligible for Long-Term Foster Care means that a determination has been made by the juvenile court that family reunification is no longer a viable option.  A child who is eligible for long-term foster care will normally be expected to remain in foster care until reaching the age of majority, unless the child is adopted or placed in guardianship situation.

Question: How is the petition filed?

Answer: When seeking DHS’ consent for the dependency order, the party should present to the District Director the following: Juvenile date and place of birth; Date and manner of entry to the U.S.; Current immigration status; Information re: whereabouts and immigration status of parents and other close relatives; Evidence of abuse, neglect or abandonment; Reasons why it would not be in the best interest of the child to return to country of nationality; and the type of proceeding before the juvenile court.

Question: Who can file the SIJ?
Answer: The child or any person acting on the alien’s behalf can file the SIJ petition.  

Question: What to file?
Answer: Form I-360, SIJ Petition, supported by the following documents: Court order declaring dependency on the juvenile court or placing juvenile under the custody of an agency or department of a State; Court order deeming the juvenile eligible for long-term foster care due to abuse, neglect or abandonment; Determination from an administrative or judicial proceeding that it is in the best interest of a child not to be returned to his/her country of nationality and proof of juvenile’s age.

In addition to Form I-360, the following petitions may also be filed: Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident, can be filed concurrently with Form I-360; Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability, when the ground of admissibility is not automatically waived under INA §245(g)(2)(A) andForm I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on the pending I-485 Application to Adjust Status.

Question: What are the supporting documents for Form I-485 (Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident)?

Answer: Birth certificate or other proof of identity; Sealed medical examination; Two photographs; Evidence of inspection, admission or parole (an individual with SIJ classification is deemed to be paroled for purposes of adjustment of status); Form G-325A (Biographic Information) for applicants over 14 years old and if the juvenile has an arrest record, he/she must also submit certified copies of the records of disposition. If the juvenile is seeking waiver of a ground of inadmissibility that is not otherwise automatically waived under INA §245(h)(2)(A), he/she must submit Form I-601 (Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability) and supporting documents establishing that waiver is warranted for humanitarian purposes, family unity or the public interest.

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