Juvenile Petitions

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is available for non-citizen minors living in the U.S. who have been abandoned, neglected or abused by one or both of their parents. It is a relatively quick route to a green card for children who qualify. However, the process is complicated, and is best done with the help of an attorney. The application process must be started before the child's 18th or 21st birthday depending on the laws of the state. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a 2-step process in which first:
  • A juvenile court, family court, or similar state court must find that the child has been abandoned, neglected or abused.
    • The court must either make the child a ward of the state (a 'court dependent') or place the child in the custody of a guardian, a state agency, or family member.
  • The same court must also find that it is not in the child's best interest to return to his or her home country.
This must be determined by a judge in a court in the state where the child lives, not by immigration officials. The second step will be to apply with immigration officials for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. It is important to find an experienced attorney in your state to help with the first step as the laws governing the first step are state-specific.