SIJ Status

Immigration Expertise on Your Side

Sometimes children need an immigration status that is separate from their parents. When abuse, neglect, or abandonment leave immigrant children unable to go home, they may file Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) petitions.

The process requires the assistance of an attorney familiar with family, juvenile, and immigration courts. The Villegas Law Office, PLLC has extensive experience with SIJ petitions, and because we are passionate about helping children find safe and loving homes, we are constantly working to adapt as the legal playing field changes.

Children Who Qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

If a child is present in the United States without legal status, the courts may sometimes find that they need humanitarian protection. To qualify, the child must be:

  • Unmarried
  • Under 21 years old
  • Physically present in the United States

The child must also have obtained a qualifying juvenile court order.

SIJ Petitions in State Family and Juvenile Courts

To qualify for an SIJ petition, the immigrant juvenile must be found to have suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment by one or both of his or her parents. The judge must also find that reunification with one or both parents is not viable, and returning to his or her country of origin is not in the child’s best interests.

Many family and juvenile court judges may not be aware of this option. Attorney Ana Maria Villegas can come into the state courts in Cameron, Willacy, and Hidalgo Counties to explain the options and advocate for an SIJ juvenile court order.

SIJ Immigration Petitions

Once a juvenile court judge issues an order determining a child’s eligibility for SIJ status, the child can then apply to USCIS for a Special Immigrant Juvenile status, as well as a lawful permanent resident status or a green card.

Sometimes, particularly if the state court order is missing important findings of fact, USCIS will issue a “request for evidence.” If that happens, immigration attorney Ana Maria Villegas may prepare evidence including transcripts of state court hearings, affidavits, statements, and other documents to support the child’s need to remain in the U.S. as a Special Immigrant Juvenile.

Contact an Attorney for SIJ Petitions

Obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile status requires the help of a lawyer who is comfortable in family court and with the immigration process. Attorney Ana Maria Villegas can help you or the child in your care navigate the legal system and get the necessary humanitarian protections.

Contact the Villegas Law Office, PLLC to speak with an immigration lawyer who takes a special interest in humanitarian and juvenile immigration cases. We will go above and beyond to ensure you get a favorable outcome.