currently involved in a state court case about your custody or care OR you want to start a case to ask that a trusted adult in your life have custody or guardianship over you.
An order from the state court is the critical evidence you need to apply for SIJS. Make sure you talk to a lawyer so that your order has all necessary language.
Before you can apply for SIJS with USCIS, the state court has to make specific findings about you in a court order. Those findings are:
You were abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both of your parents
Getting back together with one or both parents is not possible because of the abuse, neglect or abandonment AND
It is not in your best interests to be sent back to your country or the last place you lived.
In Minnesota, there are different types of state court proceedings where this could happen. They include juvenile protection cases (like child protection cases), family court custody cases, juvenile delinquency cases, and “at-risk juvenile” guardianship cases. This fact sheet talks about the process for seeking SIJS through a Minnesota “at-risk juvenile” guardianship.
Meet with an immigration lawyer to decide if SIJS is a good option for you.
Before applying, you need to go to the state juvenile court. Your immigration lawyer might be able to help you with the state court order. Or they might have ideas about who can help you get your state court order. If you don’t have money to hire a lawyer you might be able to get help from local nonprofit organizations. See section below, “Who can help me through the process?”
If you want to try to start this process yourself, there are forms and information on the courts website. This process is complicated! You have to fulfill certain requirements like:
Legal service to your parents
Filling out and filing the court forms in the right way
Paying the court fee or applying for a fee waiver, and
Making sure you go to your court hearings
It is best to work with a lawyer if you can.
Find someone willing to be a guardian. The court has to approve your choice. The guardian should give you:
guidance and help
financial and emotional support
referrals to resources to help meet your needs
referrals and resources to protect you from sex or labor trafficking or domestic or sexual violence
At your hearing the court looks at the requirements listed above in “Who can get SIJS?”
At its core the state juvenile court order must:
Appoint you a guardian
Find that you have been abused, neglected or abandoned as defined under Minnesota state law and that you can’t go back with your parents.
Find that it’s not in your best interest to be sent back to your country
But, the statements in the Order should have specific details. This is important to make sure the Order is legal. The Order needs to:
meet the requirements of the law so that the appointment of your guardian is valid
have all the information needed in the “findings” section. This lets USCIS know that you are a Special Immigrant Juvenile.
Having an immigration lawyer review both your petition and proposed order before they are finalized is recommended.
If you are filing this application on your own, read all of the filing instructions on USCIS’ website very carefully! It is important that you include all the necessary proofs that USCIS needs to see along with your I-360 application.
There are very specific requirements to this process. You should meet with an immigration lawyer if you haven’t already!
Once you file Form I-360 with all the necessary proof talked about above, it is reviewed by USCIS. They review everything to make sure you meet all the requirements showing you are eligible for SIJS.
Once USCIS approves your SIJS, you may get access to certain benefits. Talk to an immigration lawyer to see what you can get.
Many Special Immigrant Juveniles can apply for a green card in a few years after they get SIJS. After having a green card for a certain number of years you can apply to become a citizen. Talk to an immigration lawyer about these next steps.
Some Special Immigrant Juveniles are also granted Deferred Action. With Deferred Action you can:
Get some protection from deportation
Apply for a work permit
Apply for a social security number, and
Get access to some federal healthcare programs and federal financial aid
USCIS can only take away your SIJS in certain situations. One example is if a court decides your state court order is no longer valid. Talk to an immigration lawyer right away if you get a notice from USCIS saying they want to rescind (take away) your SIJS grant.