Immigration law, like most areas of the law, has certain hard-and-fast deadlines. For example, the age cut-off for obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, which is one potential basis for obtaining a green card, is the applicant’s 21st birthday. Sometimes, an applicant may be pushed to the brink of that deadline through forces outside their control. For those applicants who find themselves facing unavoidable last-minute applications, recent court decisions may offer some good news. As with any sort of immigration filing, a skilled Maryland immigration lawyer can provide invaluable assistance as you pursue an SIJ application… whether or not you’re up against the deadline.
To receive SIJ status, a juvenile must file USCIS Form I-360 and establish that he “has been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents making reunification with those parents impossible” and that return to his native country is not in his best interest.
Generally, the basis for meeting the first of these required criteria is a declaration of dependency by a state court judge. This creates a major challenge for some SIJ applicants: they must meet a strictly enforced deadline (the date of their 21st birthday) but they also are at the mercy of factors outside their control; namely, the speed at which the state court adjudicates its dependency case docket.