CLINIC Obtains FOIA Disclosures on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Policies After Bringing Lawsuit, CLINIC v. USCIS

Last Updated

April 7, 2020

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. filed May 22, 2019). During the course of that litigation (which is now at the summary judgment stage), USCIS produced various agency guidance and training documents related to how it adjudicates SIJS petitions and SIJS-based adjustment of status applications.

CLINIC posts here portions of those disclosures that we believe may be useful to practitioners representing SIJS-eligible clients. However, please note that some of these documents are older and may not reflect current policy or practice (e.g., changes in USCIS policy driven in part by litigation in cases such as R.F.M. v. Nielsen and J.L. v. Cissna). For information about some of USCIS’s most recent SIJS-related policy changes, practitioners may want to review the following CLINIC resources:

  1. A November 2019 Practice Alert, co-authored with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, titled "SIJS Policy Updates and Proposed Regulations"
  2. A comparison chart showing November 2019 changes to the USCIS Policy Manual provisions on SIJS
  3. Our Index of Unpublished Administrative Appeals Office Decisions on SIJS, available to practitioners by request and updated regularly

SIJS FOIA DISCLOSURES

A. USCIS Powerpoints and Other Training Materials on SIJS

  1. December 2018 Powerpoint titled “Advanced Training on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status”
  2. September 2016 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions: Training for Field Offices”
    1. Version of this Powerpoint with presenter notes
  3. September 2016 Powerpoint titled “Child Sensitive Interviewing: Training for Officers who Adjudicate Special Immigrant Juvenile Cases”
    1. Version of this Powerpoint with presenter notes
  4. September 2016 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Adjustment of Status”
    1. October 2016 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Adjustment of Status: Field Office Training”
  5. July 2016 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions: Training for NBC Officers”
    1. Version of this Powerpoint with presenter notes
    2. Handout from 2016 National Benefits Center training titled “Summary of Upcoming Substantive Changes to the Form I-360: Changes Related to Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions”
    3. Undated Participant Agenda titled “Training on the Special Immigrant Juvenile Program for the NBC”
    4. Undated Trainer’s Agenda titled “Training on Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Program for the NBC”
  6. June 2015 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Immigration Relief for Abused, Neglected and Abandoned Children”
  7. December 2014 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  8. February 2014 training handouts including sample state court order with commentary
  9. November 2013 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status”
  10. Spring 2011 Powerpoint titled “Immigration Relief for Juveniles: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status”
  11. November 2009 Powerpoint titled “Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ)”

B. USCIS Checklists, Charts, and Flyers on SIJS

  1. I-360 SIJ Checklist (12/3/2019)
  2. I-360 SIJ Checklist — Concurrently-Filed or Subsequent I-485 (undated)
  3. SIJS Field Adjudication Flowchart/Checklist (4/21/2010)
  4. Chart comparing 1990, 1998, and 2008 versions of SIJS statute (1/7/2016)
  5. Flyer titled “Immigration Relief for Abused Children – Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Information for Juvenile Court Judges and Child Welfare Professionals” (October 2015)
  6. Flyer titled “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Information for Juvenile Courts” (undated)

C. Template Requests for Evidence and Other Template Correspondence Related to SIJS Adjudications

  1. SIJ Templates from NBC (1/8/2020)
  2. Template RFE and NOID language, and internal email correspondence regarding the same (2016-2017)
  3. Template RFE (undated)
  4. Template RFE language (undated)
  5. Template administrative closure letter for Form I-485 based on lack of current priority date (8/9/2017)
  6. Template administrative closure letter for Forms I-360, I-485, and I-765 due to death of petitioner (12/9/2014)

D. Consolidated Handbook of Adjudication Procedures – SIJS Provisions

***Note: Some of the policies in the Consolidated Handbook of Adjudication Procedures (CHAP) provisions produced here — such as the guidance about state court orders obtained after the age of 18 and requirements for the parental reunification determination — is no longer valid in light of subsequent federal court decisions and USCIS policy changes.

  1. Table of Contents, Part D - Petitions for Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), CHAP Volume 6 (8/17/2018)
  2. Part D - Petitions for Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), CHAP Volume 6 (4/30/2018)
  3. Chapter 2 - Eligibility, Part D - Petitions for Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), CHAP Volume 6 (8/17/2018)
  4. Guidance regarding interviews and interview waivers, Part D: Petitions for Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ) (undated)

E. Legal Guidance from USCIS Office of Chief Counsel Regarding SIJS

***Note: Some of the policies in the CHAP provisions produced here — such as the guidance about state court orders obtained after the age of 18 and requirements for the parental reunification determination — is no longer valid in light of subsequent federal court decisions and USCIS policy changes.

  1. USCIS Office of Chief Counsel Legal Guidance: “Clarification of Interpretation of ‘Reunification with One or Both Parents’ for Purposes of Establishing Eligibility for SIJ Classification” (February 2018)
  2. Message from Valerie Tobias announcing OCC guidance regarding over 18 cases and state-specific guidance (undated)

F. Email Correspondence

  1. Email among USCIS personnel with subject line “Final version of SIJ FAQ for the CHAP” discussing state law citation requirement (3/30/2018)
  2. Email thread discussing whether to inform stakeholders about new legal guidance (March 2018)

G. Previous Versions of the USCIS Policy Manual’s SIJS Provisions

  1. USCIS Policy Manual Volume 7, Part F, Chapter 7 (SIJS-based adjustment of status) (5/23/2018)
  2. USCIS Policy Manual Volume 6, Part J (Special Immigrant Juveniles) (5/23/2018)
  3. USCIS Policy Manual Volume 6, Part J, Chapter 2 (Eligibility Requirements) (8/24/2018)

H. Previous Version of USCIS Webpage on SIJS

April 10, 2018, version of USCIS Webpage, “Special Immigrant Juveniles”

I. Previous Version of Form I-360

Version dated 3/14/2016