Surge in SIJS Approvals Creates Backlog at Adjustment Stage | CLINIC

Surge in SIJS Approvals Creates Backlog at Adjustment Stage

CLINIC’s Training and Legal Support staff has written a short analysis of the potential implications for your clients of the State Department’s May Visa Bulletin, released on April 12.

The State Department’s May Visa Bulletin gives a “final action date” of Jan. 1, 2010, in the EB-4 category for applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The bulletin said this is due to an increase in the number of recipients of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status who apply for adjustment of status. The bulletin also said that while State cannot determine yet for certain, there likely will not be any forward movement in the category for the remainder of the fiscal year.

SIJS is an immigration benefit given to children who have suffered abuse, abandonment or neglect by one or both parents. It provides a pathway to lawful permanent residence, pursuant to INA § 245(h). Children who have been approved for SIJS are able to take the second step and apply for adjustment of status once their priority date (the date they filed the I-360 petition) becomes current.

The availability of the documents is determined by looking at the fourth preference employment-based category (EB-4) in the monthly Visa Bulletin. Only about 10,000 visas are available in this category annually. Priority dates for this category have generally been “current,” or available, which allowed for the SIJS recipient to file for adjustment of status without any delay.

But given that the annual quota is likely to be reached before the end of the fiscal year, State set a cut-off date for SIJS recipients from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are seeking permanent resident status. SIJS recipients from other countries are not affected by next month’s cut-off dates, nor are people from those three countries whose adjustment applications are adjudicated this month.

Chart A in the Visa Bulletin, Application Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases, shows whether a visa is available for a certain preference category for applicants from certain countries. If the category is not current, only applicants whose priority dates were before the date in the Visa Bulletin can be issued an immigrant visa, or in this case granted adjustment of status.

Chart B, Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications, shows when people may apply for adjustment of status in a particular preference category. Applicants are eligible to apply for such auxiliary benefits as employment authorization and advance parole. Chart B “application filing dates” for the EB-4 category continue to be current for the month of May in all chargeability areas and for nationals of all countries.

But each month USCIS must decide whether potential applicants may rely on Chart B for filing purposes. USCIS has yet to say whether potential applicants may rely on Chart B numbers for the month of May. If it is allowed, SIJS recipients from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as those from other countries, would still be allowed to apply for adjustment of status and receive work authorization. But final approval of permanent residence for nationals from those three countries could not occur until their priority date in Chart A becomes current.