Visas for Abandoned, Neglected, Abused Immigrant Children | Eatontown, NJ

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Visas for Abandoned, Neglected, Abused Immigrant Children

Unfortunately, the world has too many abandoned, neglected, and abused children. However, those children who are also unauthorized immigrants may have a straightforward path to legal status. 

U.S. immigration law contains a provision for granting legal permanent residency (i.e., a green card) to those who have been abandoned, neglected, or abused. Obtaining permanent residency for abandoned New Jersey children is possible.

If you are unsure about your eligibility or where to start, let our New Jersey immigration lawyer from Andres Mejer Law assess your qualifications and guide you on what steps you should take. We have devoted our years of service to assisting and giving legal advice to people just like you. Our extensive understanding of immigration law and well-rounded abilities are essential in your case. Connect with us now!

Why do I need a SIJ Immigration Attorney?

It is not simple to get Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. There are elements that a child must first have, such as whether or not the child was abandoned, neglected, or abused. Also, getting a State Juvenile Court order will not be that easy. Due to its complicated procedures, it would be fitting to hire an experienced immigration lawyer who has delivered quality legal aid to their clients’ immigration matters. Luckily, Andres Mejer, an immigrant and immigration lawyer, is here to give you that! 

Over the years of law practice, Andres has dedicated himself to making people’s immigration aspirations come true. He handled almost all types of immigration cases, including immigrant visas such as family immigration and employment-based immigration, as well as nonimmigrant visas such as victims of criminal activity (U-visa). Additionally, we have experience mounting a defense for our clients in front of an immigration court or trial court (for criminal charges and family law), helping to stop removal proceedings (deportation), and working on immigration appeals.

Whatever is your immigration concern, Andres Mejer is here to help you. Set a free consultation with us today to talk about your possible SIJ petition!

What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ) is a classification given to certain unauthorized immigrant children. Once the status is granted, the child may apply for legal permanent residency despite having entered the U.S. illegally, being unlawfully present in the U.S., or being inadmissible to the U.S. and otherwise barred from applying for permanent residency. Please note, however, that a separate waiver may need to be filed to cover grounds of inadmissibility. That is discussed in greater detail below.

Who Qualifies for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

To qualify for SIJ, the child must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be under 21 years of age; Can’t be married (marriage makes you emancipated);
  • Must be dependent on the court, a government agency, or on someone applying for the child’s custody;
  • Can’t be reunified with one or both parents of the child because they abandoned, neglected, or abused you; and
  • It must not be in the child’s best interest to return to their home country.

The key to obtaining SIJ status is that the child must have been abandoned, neglected, or abused by one or both parents. These children may be from a variety of groups: children without parents or guardians who are in federal custody, children in the state welfare system, and children who are under court-ordered custody agreements (either ward of a state agency or individual custody).

The State Court Order

To succeed in being classified as a SIJ, the child must submit an order from a state court. Each state in the U.S. has different laws and procedures for obtaining a court order. Those seeking SIJ status should understand the laws in the state in which they live.

But, essentially, the state court must decide the following:

  • That the juvenile is a dependent of the court or has been legally placed with a state agency or individual;
  • It is not in the juvenile’s best interest to return to his or her home country or the last country in which the juvenile lived before entering the U.S., and

The juvenile cannot be reunited with a parent because of one of the following reasons:

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Similar reason under that state’s laws.

For example, in New Jersey death of a parent can be considered abandonment. The issue of the juvenile’s abandonment or neglect may be brought by police, welfare authorities, family members, or the child’s non-abusive parent. Please note that the state court order must be in effect at the time the petition is filed with the USCIS. However, if the order is not valid simply because the juvenile became too old to continue to fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, the petition may still be approved.

Limitations on Sponsorship for Special Immigrant Juveniles

When the permanent residency petition is approved, SIJs receive the rights and benefits of other legal permanent residents with one big exception: Special Immigrant Juveniles cannot sponsor relatives in the same way as other legal permanent residents can.

Specifically, SIJs may not sponsor siblings while they are permanent residents (they can sponsor brothers and sisters after they naturalize and become U.S. citizens). Also, they may never sponsor their parents (even the non-abusive ones and even after they become citizens). In sum, these permanent residents are orphans in the eyes of the law, and, as such, their family sponsorship privileges are substantially restricted.

There are many complicated issues in the Special Immigrant Juvenile process. Both state courts and federal immigration agencies are involved. Anyone seeking these immigration benefits needs to ensure that he or she is protected and secure throughout the process. This is where an experienced N.J. immigration attorney is invaluable. As such, if you are contemplating pursuing a green card through the SIJ program or if you are a child advocate, you should seek the advice and assistance of competent legal counsel.


The Special Immigrant Juvenile Petition and the Green Card Application

Petitioners for SIJ status must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. The petition must be filed with the state court order discussed above. It must also include birth certificates, immigration documents, and any other relevant supporting documentation.

Petitioners for SIJ status may file the I-360 alone or may concurrently file it with Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residency. Either way, there may be some time between approval of the SIJ petition and approval of the application for permanent residency. This is because of annual numerical limitations established by Congress. In general, however, priority dates for the SIJ category are current for most countries. SIJ falls in the EB-4 category on the visa bulletin. I have previously discussed the visa bulletin in other articles.

If the SIJ is inadmissible to the U.S., he or she should also include an inadmissibility waiver (Form I-192). Further, while the permanent residency application is pending, the SIJ may be issued an employment authorization card. For this, Form I-765 should be filed. An application to waive the application fees (Form I-912) may be included as well.

Contact our SIJ Immigration Attorney to Start Your SIJ Petition Now!

Your goal of fleeing the horrors of your situation is our top priority. We are here to assist you in applying for a SIJ classification and eventually get a green card (become a permanent resident).

Our law firm wants to offer you the quality and competent legal service you deserve. Our years of service and fulfilling our clients’ aspirations are a testament that we are qualified to serve you. 

Let us walk with you towards reclaiming your future. Schedule a free consultation with our NJ immigration attorney now!


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“Nobody can help me in the past, but Attorney Andres Mejer was able to help me fix my immigration problem. He has guided me through the immigration process and has encouraged me to fight and never give up my freedom to live in the U.S.”

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¿Tiene usted padres, conyuge o hijos mayores de 21 anos,Que ha estado o esta en las fuerzas armadas Americanas?*

Do you have a parent, spouse, or child over 21 who is or was in the US military?

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Ha sido abusado por sus padres, conyuge o hijo mayor de edad?*

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If so, was it before April 30, 2001?



¿Fue usted, conyuge, sus padres, pareja o sus hijos victimas de de un crimen violento en los EEUU?*

Were you, your parents, siblings, spouse, partner, or children a victim of a violent crime in the US?

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Are you under 21 and not married?

¿Tiene usted un padre, conyuge o hijo menor de 15 anos con requerimientos especiales médicos (dificultades de estudio, alergias severas, asma u otra condición medica severa)?*

Do you have a parent, spouse, or child under 15 with medical or special needs (learning disability, severe allergies or asthma, or other serious medical condition)?

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Did your parents mistreat, abuse, or abandon you?



¿Tenia usted 30 anos o menos en Junio, 15, 2012?*

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¿Tenía usted 15 años o menos en su primera entrada en los EEUU?*

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