How Long It Takes
The first step to become a green card holder through SIJ is gathering the needed documents and information. Once our office receives payment in full, we have all your documents and you have answered all our questions, we can usually submit your application within 3 weeks after we have all the evidence needed to send to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
USCIS is legally required to decide within 180 days after receiving an SIJ application, but it often takes them from 8 to 12 months. Note that this isn’t for your green card processing. The green card processing can take much longer, depending on where you are located and the wait times of your home USCIS office.
As of August 2020, it takes around one to three years for most of our clients to be approved for their permanent resident cards. If you’re in removal proceedings, this will take longer depending on whether the court retains jurisdiction. Often, you’ll have to wait for a court hearing to hear how the judge chooses to proceed. USCIS will not decide on your green card application until after they decide on your SIJ application.
How Much It Costs
At Andres Mejer Law, we start with the three questions and create a plan for you before we accept you as a client. This is because we only take on clients we can help.
- Do you qualify for a green card or permanent residency through an SIJ?
- Is there something in your past that can disqualify you, such as multiple entries, prior denied petitions, criminal charges, removal proceedings?
- Can we fix that problem by filing a motion to re-open, post-conviction relief, or a waiver?
Since we focus on these questions, different clients who are both filing for SIJ might have very different costs.
In general, here is how we look at immigration fees, whether you are filing for an SIJ or obtaining a permanent resident status through SIJ.
We first review your background. We typically charge $1,000 per person to do the following:
- Do we need to order documents from immigration through the FOIA process (7 agencies), for prior border contacts, deportations, or prior petitions?
- Do we need to order copies from criminal or juvenile courts and a background search from the FBI?
If there is something that makes you ineligible, we then have to fix it through a waiver, reopening a criminal case, reopening a removal order, or refiling for relief. The cost varies from $3,000 to over $15,000. It depends on the severity of the charges you faced.
Once you file Form I-360 or Form I-485 you may have an interview before a USCIS official. We strongly encourage you to bring an attorney with you. Because, if you are denied you will be placed into removal proceedings. We typically charge $1,500 to attend an immigration interview with you.
If you are in removal proceedings then we charge you $1,500 to go with you to your court hearing in New York, New Jersey, or Philadelphia. If you have multiple family members who have court on the same day before the same judge we only charge one fee. If the Judge denies the motion to terminate and you have a trial on Form I-485 before the Judge we charged between $5,000-$6,000 depending on the complexity of the issues we are handling.
You will first have to file a complaint with a juvenile court. You will have to create affidavits and submit evidence proving each of the 5 requirements mentioned earlier. You will then have a trial in front of a Judge to get the findings you need to file Form I-360. This process typically costs you $7,500 – $9,000 depending on how many people are getting this benefit. You and any siblings under 21 years of age.
Once you have the Juvenile Court Order, you will then have to file Form I-360 with USCIS. We typically charge between $3,750 – $5,000. USCIS has been making this process much harder than it used to be and it takes a lot more effort to get approval than it used to.
Once your Form I-360 is approved you will have to file Form I-485. In some circumstances, you can file both at the same time. We typically charge between $3,750 – $5,000 for form I-485. We may also have to file for a waiver at this time. If there is something that makes you ineligible for your permanent resident card, we may have to file an I-601 waiver. The cost for that can be from $1500 – $3,500 depending on the complexity of the issue we are challenging.
As you can see, each one of these has a cost. It’s for that reason that my assistants can’t give you a price on the phone. It requires the knowledge and experience to figure out what needs to be done and what we charge for those services.
However, we offer a variety of discounts and ways to pay your legal fees.
If you pay in full we give you a discount. We also have discounts for repeat customers. So if we helped you with all three steps, or with prior applications, we give you an additional discount.
The more money you bring with you to your consultation, the higher the possibility of getting a discount on your immigration case.
We give your case the priority you do. The sooner you pay for your case, the sooner it gets filed. We typically need several weeks once we have all the documents, you have answered our questions, and have paid in full to file your case. The more money you can bring to start your case, the lower your payment plan will be and the faster your case will be filed.
In summary, USCIS is changing costs for applications as of October 2, 2020. They are modifying fee waivers requests. As of today, we don’t know what that looks like but if you may be eligible for SIJ we are recommending that you apply for one ASAP to avoid having to pay more money than necessary.
The SIJ application Form I-360 is the same one that is used for a variety of other applications. It is very important to read the instructions carefully and fill them out correctly. USCIS can and has rejected applications that are not filled out (that means filling in lines that don’t apply to you, too)
While it may seem expensive to hire an attorney to help, if you don’t hire one and your application is rejected, it could be a lifetime expense if you miss out on the deadlines for filing. We are here to help you. Call our office. You may qualify for a no-cost consultation. You can call us or message us at any time.