Unlock the Complexities of SIJS Visa in 2023
What is SIJS in 2023?
In our latest VIVAVISA Podcast episode, join Kousha Adhami, the esteemed founder of Adhami Law Group, as we delve into the intricate world of U.S. immigration. This session illuminates the legal avenues for those seeking to call the United States their home. We navigate through the maze of non-immigrant and immigrant visas, shedding light on the lesser-known intricacies that could be pivotal in your journey.
But our exploration doesn’t stop at the conventional paths. We pivot to share poignant narratives of undocumented individuals, understanding their challenges and the legal nuances that come into play.
Kousha Adhami will decode complex immigration terms with ease, focusing on critical topics like Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)—vital information that could be a game-changer for young immigrants in need of guidance.
As always, our biweekly podcast aims to demystify the complexities of immigration law, striving to equip our audience with knowledge that empowers them. We invite you to join our growing community of listeners. Tune in, subscribe, and engage with us—your thoughts and insights enrich our dialogue.
Sharing the VIVAVISA Podcast might light the path to a brighter future for someone in your network. Listen today and become a beacon of hope and information.
Hey Kousha, welcome to the show
Hi Amir, thank you for having me at your studio.
Of course, to begin, I want to invite you to tell us about your background and about your firm, Adhami Group.
Well, I mean, again, thank you for having me. My name is Kousha Adhami. I’m the founder of Adhami Law Group. We are located in Woodland Hills, California, and our firm primarily specializes in the field of immigration.
We have a lot to talk about and cover today and I’m going to be talking about different forms and areas of immigration, and I’m also going to cover this particular area that we are specialized known as the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status or Special Immigrant Juvenile Petition or as we all call it in the legal field SIJS!
Perfect, we will get back to the SIJS for sure, but I want you to explain to us the different types of Immigration Visa.
OK, yeah, I think it would be helpful for me to provide a little background visas in general, and then I’ll provide an overview and then we go in detail, talking about what the special immigrant visa is.
OK, so, in general, there are two types of visas. We have the non-immigrant and the immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visas are generally for individuals who are coming to the US to stay here temporarily. This means that they do not have the intent to make the US their home or their home country. This type of example of non-immigrant visas includes, for example, tourist visas, which we’re all familiar with, and student visas. There could be athletes’ visas, but in general, this category covers individuals who come to stay in the US for a short period of time.
The second category of visas is immigrant visas, and they exactly sound what they are. So, the definition of an immigrant visa is a visa where the individual intends to remain in the US permanently. OK, I usually categorize them into four separate categories or subsections. Sounds so boring, lawyers! But I usually break them down into four different categories OK, so there are employment, family, humanitarian, and special immigrant visas.
So, starting with the easiest one and the most common ones are family petitions or family visas. Under this category, it usually requires one family member who is a legal permanent resident or recall them LPR or a U.S. citizen, as we all call it USC’s who petitioned the other family member. OK, so this process requires one person to petition another person, so you have a U.S. citizen’s spouse petition, you know her partner or spouse, you have siblings and parents petitioning one another. That’s the first category.
The second category is employment visas. In this category, the petitioner is the employer. So, the employer is looking to hire someone who whom their skill is not necessarily found in the US. So, the employer files a petition for the potential future employee to bring him into the US to work for them.
These categories usually are, the example of this categories, would be for example H1B’s that are very common, EB’s and etcetera.
And the petition is a little bit different because it also requires the petition to go to the Department of Labor, but we’re not going to get to this one. It’s a complete separate category to Itself. OK.
Third category: the third category is humanitarian visas, OK. Under this category it does not require a petitioner. In this category, the applicant or the beneficiary, which have the same meaning in this context, is a self-petitioner. Usually, these categories include, for example, Asylum. Asylum seekers they come to the US and they’re seeking protection from the United States for different numeral grounds like for example, they’re seeking persecution on the basis of race, religion, political opinion, etc. Ok!
Other categories of humanitarian visas would also include like where the petitioner or the applicant is a victim. This would include VAWA, U-Visas, and T-visas, and usually, under these categories, the petitioner or the applicant is a victim.
The last category that we specialize in, known as the special immigrant juvenile status, falls under the form I-360 or SIJS.
What is SIJS, and why does it matter?
Perfect, you mentioned about SIJS or a special immigrant juvenile visa. What is it about?
Wow, Amir, you’re already a pro. You are using SIJS! Yes, OK, so let’s get a little geeky and let’s see if my memory recollects correctly so that the SIJS falls under INA. If I recall correctly, is INA101A27JI, I think. Don’t call me a gig, but you know, you have to know what you’re working with so. Basically, SIJS allows for certain children or minors to obtain legal status in the United States. OK, now the point I want to make before I go into detail regarding this petition or the status is that minors for the purposes of immigration or this particular visa, minors or child, so the term “child” for the purpose of immigration is defined as an unmarried person under the age of 21 years old.
So this is a little confusing because I mean, different states define what a minor is. But usually, we think as minor someone who is under the age of 18, but for the purposes of immigration, a child is defined as an unmarried person who is under the age of 21 years old.
OK, so let me review. The SIJS is an opportunity for undocumented children inside the United States to obtain legal status when they cannot be reunified with one or both parents.
Yes and no!
Yes, because you actually correctly stated the requirements, but there’s more to it. So, I’m going to go into detail and talk about the requirements set by USCIS. Ok, in order for the child or the youth to be eligible to apply for SIJS, they must meet the following.
1: They must be under the age of 21 years old.
2: They must be physically present in the US. SIJS is only applicable to individuals or miners that reside in the United States. You cannot be outside and apply for suggestions. You know that’s something that must be taken into consideration.
3: the youth must be unmarried. If at any point throughout the process before the child or the youth gets his green card, if he or she gets married, the petition or the visa is revoked.
4: the child or youth must have been declared dependent upon a juvenile court located in the United States, or the court has legally placed the youth under the custody of an agency or department or an individual appointed by the state or juvenile court.
It’s so mouthful and sounds very complicated. Basically, what we need to do at this stage is that the child needs to be placed under the custody of an individual or an entity. Let me let me just rephrase that again, so it basically means, and most common SIJS petitions that we do, I mean we specialized, is we have the child being placed under the custody of an individual and usually it’s either one parent or a family member or not family member, OK.
5- The requirement is that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, and or abandonment. OK, you need to. You don’t need to have all these factors. You just need to have one, OK.
6- It is not in the youth’s best interest to be returned to his or her home country of nationality or last habitual resident OK.
It sounds like complicated, but I’m breaking it down in detail because I’m going to talk about each category and what is actually required.
What are the steps of SIJS Visa in 2023 and 2024?
OK Kousha, before we’re going to go there, would it be possible for you to just simplify the whole process and just let us have a clear and simple picture about all the stages that you mentioned?
Alright, so the way I would break it down to make this to simplify this process for our listeners to understand, I usually – and I do the same at my consultations with my clients- I usually break it down into three steps.
1- one is a state court procedure, which we also refer to as the predicate order process. This is when we get the order from the state court judge.
2- is the filing of the I-360 the special immigrant juvenile status visa with USCIS.
3- and the last step is the green card, also known as the adjustment of status or the I-45. But we usually call this as the adjustment of the status stage or the Green card stage.
Ok, So what do you mean by saying state court process?
Good question. So this process, I would say, is the more complicated process because you’re going from state court than to immigration. So there are and this is the fourth requirement where I mentioned previously, where the child has to be placed under the custody of an individual OK.
So there are different ways for the state court to declare a child dependent or appoint an individual in the cost of the child, however, the most common procedure for this petition usually takes place in family law courts where one parent is usually the petitioner or a guardianship court which is part of the probate court where one parent or a family member or a non-family member are usually the petitioner OK.
I just wanna point this out to our listeners: OK, our specialty is for the petitioners that take place in the family law court and guardianship court within the state of California because we are located in California and our attorneys are licensed in California. We can only represent the children or the parents in the state of California.
We can represent the miners or our clients for immigration purposes in all states because immigration is federal law.
Ok, So let me review again. The SIJS is an opportunity for undocumented children inside of the United States to obtain legal status when they cannot be reunified with one or both parents right?
yes, Amir, you’re correct. So, this still falls under the first stage. In order for the child to obtain a legal status, the state court or a juvenile court in the US, and in this case would be California, must appoint their child in the custody of an individual the state court must also make the findings that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to neglect abuse and or abandonment under state law. Remember you don’t need to have all these factors, which means you don’t need to have neglect, abuse, and abandonment you need to have at least one. So, if the state court judge finds that the father has abandoned the minor, that’s good enough. OK, and the state court must also make the findings that it is not in the best interest of the child to return to his or her country of nationality or habitual residence. Basically, the court needs to make the findings that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his country. That’s it.
The core idea is because of abuse, neglect, and abandonment, it’s not in the best interest of the child to return to his country.
Amir, you are already becoming a pro at this. Yes, the predicate order or the state court order, once it is appointed, the individual must make the findings that reunification is not viable based on abandonment, neglect, and or abuse, and it also must make the findings that it is not in the best interest of the child to return to his country. Now, the factors for abandonment, neglect, and abuse are defined under state law along with the best interest factors.
What is the rule of the State Court for
Interesting. I have a question for you: who’s responsible for that part? I mean, who overseas determines if a child is abused, neglected, or abandoned and it is not in their best interest to return to their home country? you know what I mean?
Yes, Amir. You actually asking the correct question, and the process seems complicated because you know we were applying for immigration status with right with USCIS and immigration, and here I am talking about the state court it’s mind-boggling and I tell you what, this SIJS came sometime in the 1990s and it became even more popular in the late 2000s, and when I still have some SIJS petitions in the state courts that are outside the LA county some judges are still struggling to understand why we are in the state court in the first place, but it is mandatory by the state court judges to make these findings if the right factors are there, So let me answer your question. The question was who overseas and or who determines if the child is abused, neglected, and abandoned and who determines why it’s not in the child’s best interest to return to his country.
So, it’s very fact-driven, OK. Based on the child’s declaration and supporting documents. So California law governs the definition of abuse, neglect, and abandonment and the best interest factor but the underlying factor is that it is a judge or the magistrate that reviews and signs the predicate order, and it is that predicate order that is sent to USCIS with form I-360 and it is the predicate order that makes a determination and USCIS reviews the predicate order and decides whether they should approve or deny the I-360 or SIJS Visa.
Perfect, OK, Kousha, we reached to the end of this episode. Is there anything that you want to add to our listeners about the SIJS and everything that you talk about?
Yes so, Amir, I am pretty much in the big picture I talked about the overall process of SIJS, and I kind of touch bases on the first stage, also known as the state court process that is required for SIJS petition or visa. I also want to reiterate that SIJS is a very complicated process OK, and it’s very time-sensitive. Because once the child reaches the age of 21 it’s done. Nothing can be done and USCIS will not accept any petition, so because of the complexity of this process, I highly recommend our listeners or anyone who wishes to go through this process to hire an attorney who specializes in the field of immigration and our firm can provide the services for you guys.
Perfect. OK, Kousha, thanks for joining us, and I want to say thank you to our listeners I hope you enjoyed and learned from today’s episode. Make sure to check out the show notes with the description for access to our website, and also make sure to share this episode with your friends and subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast.
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Until the next episode, take care and bye.
In this Episode, we tried to answer the question what is SIJS in 2023? and what is the process in general for the applicants?