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Foreign children in the United States who have been subject of abuse, abandonment, or neglect may be eligible to obtain a green card through the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program. Certain children who cannot be reunited with their parents can also be eligible under this program. Once granted, these children can live and work in the United States permanently.


In order to be eligible, you must first obtain a state court order containing findings. The state court may be a juvenile court, family court, orphan court, or an equivalent court in a state that you live.

The state court must declare that you are a dependent of the court or that the court can legally place you with a caretaker, whether state sponsored or private. In addition, the state court must find that it is not in your best interest to return to your country of citizenship or the country of your last residence before the United States; or you are not able to be reunited with your parents because you have been abused, abandoned, neglected, or suffered similar treatment under state law.

You must be under the age of 21 and unmarried when your application is filed. If your marriage has ended because of annulment, divorce, or death of your late spouse, and you’re under the age of 21 at the time of the application, you are still eligible. In addition, the state court order must be in effect on the filing date.


One you meet the requirements to claim to be a Special Immigrant Juvenile, you will also need to be admissible to the United States. For example, you may not be admissible to the United States if you are or you were:

  • At risk to other people or their property either because of a mental or physical condition.
  • Involved in prostitution, either as a prostitute or a pimp.
  • A drug addict or abuser.
  • Engaged in human traffic.

However, you may be able to file a waiver and receive an exemption if you:

  • Are now getting medical treatment to help control your condition, whether mental or physical.
  • Were forced into prostitution.
  • Were arrested no more than once for drugs, and only for 30 grams or less of marijuana.
  • Had only smuggled your immediate relatives or brothers/sisters into the United States.

In addition, other inadmissibility that would otherwise apply to other green card applicants may not necessarily apply to you as a special immigrant juvenile, for example:

  • Financial inability to support yourself.
  • Unlawful presence in the United States.
  • Entered in an illegal manner.
  • Do not have a proper documents, for example, visa or passport.

If there are other reasons that you may be inadmissible, the USCIS may be able to waive most of them under humanitarian reasons.

Please note: Children who obtain a green card under the Special Immigrant Juvenile program will never be able to petition for their parents due to the nature and purpose of the program.

In addition, these children will not be able to petition for a green card for their siblings until they become U.S. Citizens.

Contact Kristy Qiu, Esq., a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale Immigration Attorney to learn more about acquiring a Green Card Through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.


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