Resources on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

 

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Index of Unpublished Administrative Appeals Office Decisions on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status - Submit request form to access document 
Sample Brief Seeking Termination of Removal Proceedings Based on SIJS Approval - Submit request form to access document
 

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A California district court approved a settlement in a case that provides protections to unaccompanied minors whom the Department of Homeland Security seeks to re-arrest based on gang allegations. The settlement also provides protections for class members whose applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or SIJS, asylum, U and T visas were denied based on gang allegations. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced new guidance on SIJS applications in the USCIS Policy Manual to implement selected provisions in the settlement.

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The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri decided in Godinez v. DHS, No. 20-008280-cv-w-GAF (W.D. Mo.) that children who have been granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or SIJS, have been paroled for humanitarian purposes and therefore are eligible for work authorization as parolees. This is the first court ruling that extends work authorization to youth seeking permanent residence in the United States based on SIJS before the filing of an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. It is not yet clear if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will follow this ruling outside the Western District of Missouri, but advocates nationwide have begun to file applications for work authorization based on the successful theory in the case.

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In light of shifting and non-transparent agency policies and practices in adjudicating Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases, CLINIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May of 2018 seeking records concerning USCIS procedures for adjudicating SIJS petitions (Form I-360) and SIJS-based adjustment of status applications. When USCIS failed to respond to the FOIA request after more than a year, CLINIC, represented by Dorsey & Whitney LLP, brought a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, CLINIC v. USCIS, 8:19-cv-01511 (D. Md.

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On November 19, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced changes to its Policy Manual section on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) petitions. The changes are effective immediately and apply to cases pending on, and filed on or after, November 19, 2019. This resource briefly summarizes some of the key changes and contains a chart comparing the current version with the previous Policy Manual section on SIJS.

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As a stakeholder with special expertise on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, CLINIC submitted comments in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s reopening of the public comment period for the 2011 proposed Special Immigrant Juvenile Petition rule.

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This practice alert, co-authored by CLINIC and our partners at Immigration Legal Resource Center, who produced this document, highlights the key take-aways from three recent decisions by the Administrative Appeals Office on Special Immigration Juvenile Status, or SIJS. It includes some of the most important elements of the proposed SIJS regulations for advocates to challenge through comments, and contains an appendix with case summaries of the three decisions by the Administrative Appeals Office.

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Every year, the Department of Homeland Security stops thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children attempting to enter the United States through its southern border. The majority of these children come from the area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle, comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The most common reason for their journey to the United States is to escape from violence, as these countries consistently rank among the world’s most violent.

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CLINIC has asked SIJ experts in MD and NY to draft affidavits describing in detail their respective state laws expanding state “juvenile” court jurisdiction from 18 to the age of 20. Advocates should use these affidavits in a creative manner including submission to USCIS in response to Requests for Further Evidence (RFE) or to Immigration Judge to request release from custody. As SIJ-eligible unaccompanied minors face hurdles to release following the February 21, 2017 DHS Border Security Memo, advocates should also consider using these affidavits for those under 18 years of age.

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On October 9, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 900 into law, and in the process expanded eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status findings to many immigrant youth in the state.

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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) allows undocumented minors who have suffered abandonment, neglect, or abuse by a parent to become lawful permanent residents.  To qualify, the child must have an order from a juvenile court demonstrating that he or she is dependent on the state and cannot be safely reunited with parents.  Federal law allows children under the age of 21 to qualify, but many potential beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 21 are left out.  Their state courts only have jurisdiction over children younger than 18, so they cannot obtain the necessary court order to appl