There are some considerable benefits to a child seeking the protection of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (hereinafter referred to as “USCIS”) by applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (hereinafter referred to as “SIJS”).
Primarily, this status will allow a unmarried minor who is illegally in this country to apply for a green card and have the right to live and work permanently in the United States.
What are the requirements to be eligible for SIJS?
The first requirement is that your child must have resided in Virginia for at least six months.
The second requirement is that your child must have been abandoned by at least one parent. This requirement is a source of considerable confusion. Can a child be abandoned if he or she is currently living in Virginia with one of his parents? The answer is yes. As long as one parent is out of the picture. What if the parent who abandoned the child is currently in the United States or even in the Commonwealth of Virginia? The answer is that in Virginia legal abandonment is defined as "the renunciation or abdication of responsibility over the child... Or a voluntary relinquishment of the child without cause". Therefore, abandonment by one parent can be established even if the parent is in the United States or in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The third requirement is that your child is under the age of 18. However, in Maryland SIJS is available for children up to the age of 21 years old. Unfortunately, I won't be able to help you with a SIJS motion in Maryland but I'd be happy to refer you to an attorney who could.
The fourth requirement is that your child is found dependent on a Virginia state juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Although this sounds complicated, it is fulfilled when a parent or proposed custodian petitions the court for custody of the minor child.
The fifth requirement is that the state juvenile Domestic Relations Court determine that it is not in the best interest of the child to be returned to their country of origin. Of course this is fact specific to each particular case.
The six requirement is that the minor child is not married.
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