- Federal law empowers Article 10 judges to issue the special findings necessary for a juvenile to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).
- While an Article 10 judge’s special finding allows a juvenile to take a first step toward applying for SIJS, immigration officials are SOLELY responsible for deciding whether a juvenile is eligible for SIJS.
What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?
SIJS is lawful immigration status which enables juveniles to:
- Live and work legally in the U.S.
- Receive federal financial aid for college
- Obtain other critical benefits (e.g., housing and medical care)
- Minimize risk of deportation and traumatic separation from family and community
- Achieve meaningful permanency planning
“SIJS” Federal Law Requirements
- Must be a child (under 21) when SIJS application is filed
- Must be unmarried
- Must be:
- Declared dependent on a juvenile court OR
- Committed to/in custody of state agency or individual/entity appointed by state/juvenile court
- Must be finding that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under state law; and
- Must be finding that it is NOT in the child’s best interest to be returned to child’s or parents’ country of nationality/last habitual residence.
Judge’s Role in Special Findings Applications
- Special Findings can be:
- Entered at virtually any point in the proceeding as long as the threshold factual findings are made
- Entered against one parent
- Entered against a non-respondent parent
- Made by a judge or referee
- Procedure depends on particular judge and the type of proceeding but can involve:
- Presentation of written motions & legal memoranda
- Oral testimony, affidavits, documents (birth certificates, death certificates, etc.)
- Evaluation of court-ordered investigation and background checks
- By counsel of choosing or Law Guardian/Attorney for the Child; see Family Court Act § 241
Click here for a complete training on SIJS
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