FCA Article 10 - Abuse & Neglect

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

  • 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
  • Representation
    • 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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