Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigration classification that can provide a path to lawful permanent residence or even citizenship in the United States. While life-changing, there are many uncertainties and misconceptions surrounding the process, making the method seem out of reach for those in need.
Popularity of SIJS in the US
The SIJS application process has been increasing in popularity over the last few years as changes to various statutes have expanded availability. These expansions include:
- Codification of SIJS specific language within the
- Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act
- Probate Act
- Adoption Act
- Expansion of jurisdiction for 18 – 20-year-olds within the Probate division
Qualifications for SIJS
SIJS is only available to those under 21 and living in the US who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both of their parents. To qualify, individuals must be unmarried and have a court order placing them in the custody of a parent or other third party.
In Illinois, certain courts lose jurisdiction over individuals once they reach the age of 18. However, jurisdiction expressly continues for the purposes of SIJS for those aged 18 to 20 in a guardianship proceeding. This includes jurisdiction both to finalize a new case, or to extend a prior guardianship to include necessary SIJS language that was not previously entered.
SIJS for Those Aged 18 – 20
Young adults who are over the age of 18 but not yet 21 must take an active role in the guardianship process by giving their consent to the intended guardian. The court recognizes the importance and rights of minors over the age of 18 to participate in and understand the proceedings concerning their guardianship. Proposed guardians for those aged 18 to 20 must meet the same requirements and undergo the same procedures as proposed guardians for children under the age of 18, including submitting to fingerprinting and a search of the Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System.
Once an order is signed by a judge, a minor must include the order in their SIJS application to USCIS.
For those considering applying for SIJS, Cailee J. Alderman can answer common questions about the process and elaborate on topics that often leave qualifying young adults and their prospective guardians in the dark.
Contact her or another Kogut & Wilson attorney today.
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