The benefits and protections afforded to children and young adults under US Immigration laws and policies are rapidly evolving. For example, a law known as “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” or “SIJS” provides a path to Lawful Permanent Residency, and ultimately US citizenship, for certain children who have been abused, abandoned, and neglected.
In addition, President Obama’s policy that he announced in June 2012 of “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA” provides protection from deportation and employment authorization to certain children and young adults who meet certain educational benchmarks. Moreover, the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Homeland Security have implemented child-specific policies and procedures, including special treatment for child asylum seekers.
Spanish-speaking children in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court
: Review this document
(created by Catholic Charities) which explains the immigration court process, including your rights and responsibilities before the court and possible defenses to deportation. *This sheet is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice*
Niños hispanohablantes enfrentando el proceso de deportación ante la Corte de Inmigración
: Revise este documento
(creado por Centro Católico) que explica el proceso que le espera ante la Corte, sus derechos y responsibilidades ante ella, y posibles defensas contra la deportación. * Este folleto es sólo para fines informativos y no constituye consejo legal *
SIJS is a classification under US Immigration law that enables certain undocumented children who have suffered abuse, abandonment, and/or neglect and who are present in the US to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). Originally enacted in 1990, Congress amended the statute that governs SIJS in 2008. To qualify for SIJS, an applicant must fulfill the following requirements:
- Be unmarried;
- Be under the age of 21;
- Be declared dependent on a juvenile court located in US or be legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, an individual or entity appointed by a State or juvenile court located in the United States;
- Be unable to reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect or abandonment or similar basis found under state law;
- Be someone in whose best interest it is to remain in the US and to not be returned to his or his parents’ previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence.
Before a child can apply to USCIS for SIJS, a State Court must issue an Order making certain findings of fact, and the child must submit this Order with his application to USCIS. After attaining this Order, the child may file his application for SIJS with USCIS and, depending on whether he is or has ever been in Removal Proceedings before the Immigration Court, may simultaneously or subsequently file his Application for Adjustment of Status to become a LPR, provided he meets the eligibility requirements therefor.
Grossman Law attorney Christina Wilkes
was an early pioneer of SIJS cases, having brought some of the very first in the DC Metropolitan region nearly a decade ago. Since then, Ms. Wilkes has represented over 100 children in becoming LPRs through SIJS. Today Grossman Law attorneys, including Ms. Wilkes, represent SIJS clients at every stage of the process, including before DC and Maryland State Courts, USCIS, and the Immigration Courts. (For clients in Virginia, Grossman Law works with outside counsel for the State Court portion of SIJS cases.)
USCIS recently released the following educational resources about Special Immigrant Juvenile status:
To find out whether you or someone you know may be eligible for SIJS, please contact Grossman Law for a legal consultation. Email us or call us at (240) 403-0913 to set up a consultation.
Deferred Action, which also exists in other contexts, is a discretionary determination to defer or delay the removal (or deportation) of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred Action does not confer legal status upon an individual, but it does enable a person to receive work authorization if he/she can demonstrate an “economic necessity for employment.”
The Obama Administration announced the new policy of “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA” on June 15, 2012 and introduced some significant changes to the policy on November 20, 2014. Pursuant to this policy, certain people who came to the United States as children and who meet several key guidelines, may request consideration for Deferred Action for a period of two to three years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Click to download Grossman Law, LLC's updated informational flyer on the 2014 changes to DACA in English, or en Español
Under the 2012 guidelines,* to qualify for DACA, an applicant must fulfill the following requirements:
*Please note that the 2014 changes to DACA have not been formally announced by USCIS; we will update accordingly once USCIS has formally announced the new guidelines.*
- He/she must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
- He/she must have come to the US before reaching his/her 16th birthday;
- He/she must have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007 up to the present time;
- He/she must have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and must be physically present when he/she requests Deferred Action;
- He/she must have entered without inspection before June 15, 2012 or his/her lawful immigration status must have been expired as of June 15, 2012;
- On the date of application, he/she must be “currently in school”, have graduated OR obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate, OR be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces;
- He/she must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
- He/she must be at least 15 years old at the time of application (certain exceptions apply).
To download the Grossman Law, LLC checklist on DACA, click here.
To read more about DACA on the USCIS website, click here. For USCIS statistics on its processing of DACA Applications, click here.
To schedule your DACA consultation, email us here or call us at (240) 403-0913.