Who: Any child or youth under the age of 21 who was born in a foreign country; lives without legal authorization in the U.S.; has experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment; and meets other specified eligibility criteria might be eligible for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status.

Join the Federal Bar Association May 12-13 in Denver, Colorado for a timely examination of the latest immigration orders affecting children. Register for the Immigration Law Conference at www.fedbar.org/immlaw17. Early-bird registration rates are available on or before March 31.

What: The alphabet soup of immigration statuses and protections includes one for minors. In 1990, Congress created an avenue for unauthorized alien children who become dependents of the state juvenile courts to remain in the U.S. legally and permanently.

With the arrival of the special immigrant juvenile statute, undocumented juveniles under the age of 21 have a chance at permanent status.  The SIJ provision is a marriage of state family or juvenile court with federal immigration jurisdiction.

When: There has been a significant increase in the number of children requesting SIJ status between fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2013. In terms of approvals, the numbers have gone from 73 in fiscal year 2005 to 3,432 in fiscal year 2013. Final numbers for 2015 count 8,739 SIJ status petitions approved.

Where: At the heart of the SIJ program is compassion for children who have been abused and are in need of protection. Congress created SIJ status to prevent abused children from being deported with or to parents who abused, abandoned, or neglected them. The program was expanded in 2008 to include children dependent on a court and for whom reunification with one or both parents is not viable.

Why: Immigration Law Conference panelists will explore the challenges and solutions for minor children who are living in the U.S. and typically have fled from dangerous situations in their home country. Also included at the conference will be how to get minor children on a road to a status where they could apply for a green card. The SIJ status visa was crafted for undocumented minor applicants who can meet other criteria as well, including being unmarried, law abiding, and meeting an age limit.

How: The SIJ classification enables unauthorized juveniles who become dependents of the state juvenile court to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If an LPR meets the naturalization requirements set in the INA, he or she can become a U.S. citizen. A juvenile court, family court, or similar state court must find that the child has been abused, neglected or abandoned. The court must also find that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his or her home country.

Don’t miss the Immigration Law Conference May 12-13. Learn about new guidelines on the SIJ category, including eligibility requirements, as well as the complexities of immigration applications.  Sign up today at www.fedbar.org/immlaw17.


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.