On July 31, a federal court in California issued a ruling in an immigration class action lawsuit. That ruling has created nationwide impacts, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services authoring an update to its USCIS Policy Manual. That update, which will align with the court’s July 31 ruling, deals with special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status, the 180-day timeframe for adjudicating an SIJ petition, and the provisions within the Department of Homeland Security’s regulations regarding tolling of that 180-day deadline. This new development is potentially significant in many ways, one of which is to remind anyone with questions about SIJ status to seek out answers from a knowledgeable and fully up-to-date Maryland immigration lawyer.
SIJ status is available to certain immigrants who have been the subject of state juvenile court proceedings regarding abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The way to initiate a request for SIJ status is to file a Form 360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
An immigrant can obtain SIJ status if he/she (1) “has been declared dependent on a juvenile court or legally committed to the custody of an individual or entity” and (2) cannot viably reunify with one or both parents “due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.” Additionally, (3) an administrative or judicial proceeding must have deemed “that it would not be in the juvenile immigrant’s best interest to be returned to the juvenile immigrant’s or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence,” and (4) the DHS “consents to the grant of special immigrant juvenile status.”