As recently as last month, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Office (USCIS) offered some clarification regarding the requirements for obtaining an SIJ classification – otherwise known as a Special Immigration Juvenile classification.
The United States Congress established the SIJ classification in 1990. The main purpose of this classification was to pave the way legal status for immigrant children who were in the United States foster care system and who required intervention from the court system in order for them to be protected against a neglectful parent’s abandonment or abuse. Under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations, USCIS has blanket authority to approve any number of SIJ petitions in a given year. However, USCIS can only approve a limited number of SIJ adjustments in a given year. This is due primarily to the limited number of immigrant visas that are available in that year.
In order to help ensure that SIJs are granted on a consistent basis each year, USCIS recently issued a total of three decisions that were adopted by the Administrative Appeals Office on October 15, 2019. These AAO decisions apply to both future and pending SIJ petitions, but they do not change any substantive requirements that are already in place, nor do they create any rights which are binding under the law.
Immigration laws are constantly changing. For more information about the recent SIJ status policy change and other immigration issues, please call experienced Austin immigration lawyer Michael G. Murry, of Michael G. Murray, P.A. You can call today at (512) 215-4407, or contact the firm online, to learn more.
Evidence of Court Intervention
One of the new SIJ status policy changes is that in order for USCIS to provide a juvenile relief from neglect, abuse, or abandonment, there must be:
- Evidence of intervention by a court
- That evidence must be more than a statement which indicates that the juvenile is reliant upon the court
This evidence serves as an early-item indicator regarding the intended purpose of the SIJ classification. In other words, the classification must be sought to provide relief from neglect, abuse, or abandonment by one or both of the child’s parents – not just for purposes of obtaining a benefit for immigration purposes.
Orders from State Courts
Pursuant to the recent decisions, USCIS will recognize certain state court orders. However, in order for USCIS to consider these orders, the petitioner must have fully met each and every prong of the applicable ‘juvenile’ definition under the laws of the state – and at the time when the state court order was issued. Moreover, the state court must have made the determination that the juvenile had been subject to some form of parental mistreatment or neglect.
Finally, going forward, the USCIS will no longer require evidence that a particular state court was authorized to give an unfit parent custody of a minor child, in order for a parental reunification determination to be made vis-à-vis an SIJ classification.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Austin Immigration Attorney
The main purpose of these new policy changes is to ensure that true parental neglect and abuse victims receive all of the help that they require. For answers to all of your immigration questions and to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation, please call experienced Austin immigration lawyer Michael G. Murry, of Michael G. Murray, P.A., today at (512) 215-4407 or contact the firm online.
View more contact information here: Immigration Attorney in Austin.