Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

This module provides information on how and when family court judges issue the special findings necessary for a juvenile to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

Lawful immigration status enables people:

  • To achieve meaningful Permanency Planning
  • To live and work legally in the U.S.
  • To obtain other critical benefits (e.g., housing and medical care)
  • To seek educational assistance and support
  • To minimize risk of removal from the U.S. and traumatic separation from family and community

History & Purpose

  • Established by Immigration Act of 1990, modified in 1993, and significantly expanded by the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”);
  • Aimed at protecting youth who are victims of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or similar family problems;
  • Federal law recognizes the training and experience of juvenile court judges and other judicial professionals, and asks state courts to make certain determinations.
  • Final SIJS eligibility determinations made by DHS;  DHS or Immigration Judges determine green card eligibility.

Sources of Law

  • Statutory Authority: INA § 101(a)(27)(J), codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J); Introduced in 1990 and amended in 1993; Significantly expanded by 2008 TVPRA
  • Regulatory Authority: Regulations not yet modified to reflect 2008 TVPRA amendments
  • USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decisions
  • USCIS Policy Memos State Juvenile Court decisions
  • State Juvenile Court decisions