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USCIS has issued guidance on the Special Immigrant Juvenile classification.

USCIS has issued guidance on the Special Immigrant Juvenile classification.

On October 11, USCIS issued 3 adopted Administrative Appeals Office decisions that clarified the requirements for a Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. On November 19, USCIS updated its policy manual to reflect those decisions. The three clarifications are that 1) the petitioner must have been a juvenile under relevant state law when the juvenile court order was issued; 2) the court’s intervention must have provided relief from abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and cannot be just a statement that the juvenile is dependent on the court; and 3) it is no longer required to show that a state court had the authority to place a petitioner in the custody of an unfit parent in order to make a determination regarding parental reunification for purposes of SIJ classification.

Representation for Children

Politico reports that the Ninth Circuit last week heard arguments on a landmark case testing child migrants’ right to counsel in deportation hearings. During the hearing, the three-judge panel often seemed to be warning the Justice Department that hiding behind jurisdictional rules in a case involving minors wasn’t true justice at all. “It’s a real practical problem,” stated Judge Milan Smith. “[R]ealistically, [the DOJ is] saying that while there may be individuals who are lucky enough to have pro bono counsel and the like, … [the children] are out of luck because they cannot defend themselves.”

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