SIJS (Special Immigrant Juvenile Status)
There is a special petition for juveniles under immigration law. Foreign nationals under 21 years of age who have been abandoned, neglected or abused by one or more of their parents can petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and receive permanent residence in this country. This process is not easy; it requires a court order from the family court maintaining jurisdiction over the juvenile’s residence stating that the juvenile is a ward of the court. This order may then be used to petition immigration for resident status. In the State of Maryland, Circuit Courts in each county have jurisdiction over SIJS cases.
- Guardianship – an adult may petition to be the guardian of a child and for findings of special immigrant juvenile eligibility for their child until the age of 21 in the State of Maryland
- Custody – a parent may petition for custody and for findings of special immigrant juvenile eligibility for their child until the age of 21
- Modification of Prior Order – if a parent or guardian has already petitioned for a child but did not obtain the requisite findings, they may ask the court to reopen the case to make findings of eligibility for the child until the age of 21
- Adoption – an adult may petition the court to adopt a child and for findings of special immigrant juvenile eligibility for their child until the age of 21
Once the state court orders are obtained, a Special Immigrant Juvenile petition may be filed with United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services and if a visa is available at that time, the minor child may also file for permanent residence.