Project: Afghan Legal Assistance

SJIS: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Human Rights First

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) offers a path to permanent residence for certain children who have been neglected, abused, abandoned, or orphaned.

Applying for SIJS is a complex process that varies by state; we recommend working with an immigration attorney if you choose to apply for this status.

Unmarried children under 21 (18 in some states) who have been neglected, abused, abandoned by a parent, or whose parent has died are eligible for SIJS.

SIJS is a complicated process, we strongly urge you to consult and work with an immigration attorney immigration attorney if you think you or a family member may be eligible. 

To apply:

Obtain a special findings order from a state family court. This process is complex and different in each state, so consulting an immigration attorney is recommended.

Generally, this special findings order must show:

  • you are a dependent of the court, or in the custody of a state agency or an entity appointed by the court;
  • you cannot be reunified with at least one of your parents because of abuse, abandonment by or death of a parent, neglect or a similar basis; and
  • it is not in your best interests to return to the country of nationality.

With a special findings order, file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

Decisions on SIJS petitions are usually made within 180 days.

If you receive approval, you will be eligible to apply for a permanent residence by filing Form I-485, Application for Permanent Residence and supporting documentation.