Obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Minors sometimes come to the United States without their parents. This is often the case when a minor child’s parents have abandoned them or there are some other circumstances that make them vulnerable in their home country. Frequently these children are afraid to go home. These individuals have the option of pursuing resident status in the United States by obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ).
To be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a child must have a person who can serve as their guardian until they reach the age of majority. Obtaining a guardianship is a critical first step for these children. They must have a guardianship in place before an immigration attorney can apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
At Deitch & Perone, P.C., in Monmouth County, New Jersey, we have extensive experience helping vulnerable children with guardianship issues. Immigration attorneys frequently contact us because they know we are familiar with these cases, and we know how to get them done right. We know which courts to use and which relief is necessary before a child may obtain protected resident status.
What Is The Process For Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?
For minors in federal custody (such as the Department of Health & Human Services) or state custody, the first step is to file for guardianship in family law court. It is critical that the family law court make certain findings. Essential findings include:
- Proof of vulnerable status — There must be a showing that a parent has abused, neglected or abandoned the child and reunification is not possible.
- Best interests — As part of this process, the court must also find that it is not in the child’s best interests to return to his or her country of nationality.
- Unmarried —Evidence that the child is not married.
- Verification of age — In most courts, this resident status is only available to children under the age of 18 but some judges will grant guardianship to children under the age of 21.
Once a guardianship has been obtained with the required findings, an immigration lawyer can proceed with filing for SIJ protection.
Attorneys who are inexperienced in this area of law often experience difficulty by filing in the wrong court or obtaining the wrong release that does not contain the requisite findings necessary for SIJ protection.
Do You Need Assistance With Obtaining Guardianship For SIJ Protection?
Our attorneys have handled many of these types of cases. We have represented children from El Salvador, Columbia and other countries who desperately need SIJ protection. If you are looking for assistance with obtaining a guardianship order in New Jersey family court, call us in West Long Branch at 732-287-6086 or Scotch Plains at 732-287-6086. You can also reach us online using our contact form.