Green card status for minors is a pressing issue in Texas. Nearly three-quarters of the young people caught crossing the border illegally are specifically crossing into our state.
Because many of these young immigrants arriving in the U.S. are alone, they are often urgently in need of legal help. If you're seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), or helping someone who is, it's important to understand some basic facts.
Requirements and benefits
SIJS is only for people who are under 21 and are unmarried. In addition, they must produce proof of having been abandoned or neglected by at least one of their parents, and must generally prove that reuniting with those parents isn't an option.
Returning to their country of origin also has to be proven to be unviable. Finally, the person seeking SIJ must be declared a dependent by the juvenile court system, after which his or her case may be transferred to family court. If you attain SIJS status, you will be given a green card, which means that you will be legally considered a permanent resident of the U.S.
Things to consider
If you or the person you're helping is concerned about family members who are either still in your country of origin or in the U.S. illegally, there are possible drawbacks to your attaining SIJS. In doing so, you agree that you will not ever petition for a green card for your parents. In addition, you will have to become a full U.S. citizen before you can petition for siblings to attain a green card.
Obtaining your green card through a SIJS designation is a two-step process. First you must go to a Family Court or related venue in order to get a "special findings order" to proceed with the SIJS petition. Next, you will apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for your green card.
It's important to have the best possible legal representation for each aspect of the process so that you can properly present your case, and understand what is necessary in order to be awarded your green card. Immigration law is very complex. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can make the difference between obtaining a green card and being denied one.