Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Grandparent Rights and GuardianshipTrained in collaborative law, family law, mediation, and litigation, Mr. Darren Shapiro Esq. regularly works alongside a variety of professionals in a range of circumstances to assist his clients and achieve results that reflect their best interests. In some instances, the sphere of family law interconnects with other legal aspects - such as in matters that involve both the best interests of a child, and immigration matters. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a concept that designed in order to help vulnerable children access lawful and permanent residence within the U.S. Often, these children must access SIJS, and Mr. Shapiro can help in these efforts, due to reasons of neglect, abuse, and abandonment.

There are various benefits associated with a child obtaining SIJS. First of all, this status waives various forms of inadmissibility on a legal level that could restrict the immigrant child from establishing themselves within the U.S. as a lawful and permanent resident. For example, SIJS waives issues regarding unlawful entry, working without authorization, immigration violations, and the status of the child as a public charge. To access Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, individuals might be directed towards the family court - which is available in each County including Suffolk and Nassau County Long Island, New York City or the surrounding areas, which possess jurisdiction over decisions regarding the custody and care of children. Often, the juvenile court may deal with uses of dependency, delinquency, or guardianship. To qualify for special immigrant juvenile status, the child in question must meet standards outlined in the following criteria:

  • It must be determined that it is not within the best interests of the child for him or her to return back to their country of nationality or last country of residence.
  • The court must find that a reunion with either one or both of the child's parents is not possible because of the threat of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or an issue that is similar under the law.
  • The applicant must achieve a dependent status from juvenile court - this is where Mr. Shapiro can be of assistance to his clients.
  • The child must not be married.
  • The child or applicant must be more than 21 years old.

The New York Family Court can declare Special Immigrant Juvenile Status when they receive evidence that the applicant is eligible to receive that status. Typically, this means that the minor will engage within proceedings in a Family or Surrogate's court, wherein the court issues a "special findings order" used to declare the child's eligibility for SIJS. Often, for the special findings order to be issued, the New York Court will need to find that the child in question has been abandoned, abused, or neglected by one or both of their parents. The matter can make its way to court through any of the following routes:

  1. A family member or friend files a court petition to accept legal guardianship over the child. This option is typically used when the parents have left the child with that relative or friend before and stop caring for the child themselves.
  2. A non-abusive parent or alternative family member may approach the court and petition for custody as part of a divorce case or paternity argument. Again, this often involves alleging abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
  3. A welfare agency may receive reports about a family that suggest neglect or abuse, and the case may enter juvenile court to decide whether the child should gain status as a ward of the state, or be placed with a private guardian.

Most commonly, the easiest way for the family court in New York to receive jurisdiction over a minor's case is through guardianship. However, a motion can also be introduced that requests a special findings order through custody hearings, permanency hearings, neglect cases, PINS (persons in need of supervision) proceedings, or adoption matters. Whichever process is used an experienced attorney is essential in handling the various nuances of the case, and Mr. Shapiro can help in bringing issues of abandonment, abuse and neglect to the court's attention – and attempting to prove the request is in the best interests of the child.

The child and family members involved within a case may be required to support their position in court. Mr. Shapiro often recommends that individuals gather as much evidence as possible to support their case. This evidence can take the form of medical records, reports from teachers, and police perhaps police records. Once the court has decided that a special findings order should be allowed, the child will have the opportunity to file a USCIS petition requesting special immigrant juvenile status. This process is best left to an attorney with experience in immigration. It requires consideration of documents such as: court orders, birth certificates, guardianship, and dependency files. Once the information is received by the USCIS, they will determine whether the applicant in question is suitable to qualify for SIJS. They may issue a request for further evidence if necessary. Although an application to register permanent residence or adjust status can be submitted at the same time as the request for SIJS, a decision will not be made on these matters until Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is allowed.

To learn more about the various aspects of family law, and the areas that Mr. Shapiro can assist in when it comes to managing cases regarding Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases, please feel free to explore our web pages, blog entries, or get in touch. If you would like to discuss your case with Mr. Darren Shapiro himself, then please contact us about your free consultation either over the phone or in office. It would be our pleasure to help you manage your legal needs.

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