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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Applicants Whose Application was Denied Can Reopen Case

March 15, 2011 by Immigration Law Attorney Lena Korial-Yonan, Esq.

A news alert by USCIS was issued on Monday, March 14, 2011 asking all people who previously applied for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status on Form I-360 on or after May 13, 2005 and whose applications were denied to file a motion to reopen with USCIS as soon as possible based on the Perez-Olano settlement. To qualify for the motion to reopen, the reasons for the denial should be age-related dependency orders that were terminated because of age or because of specific consent.

Regarding specific consent, this means that the juveniles who are not in the custody of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) do not need specific consent before they go to the juvenile court.

Information on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

The Special Immigrant Juvenile status is a classification that is used by applicants who are under 21 years of age, and some local courts even require that the applicant is less than 18 years old. If you are over 18 years old but not yet 21 years of age and otherwise qualify by meeting the other requirements for SIJ status, there is an extension request that can be made to the court in your jurisdiction.

SIJ status requires that the applicant has an approved court order declaring the applicant to be a dependent of the court and eligible for long-term foster care due to the applicant's parents having neglected, abused or abandoned the applicant. In addition, the Judge's order should also state that it is in the child's best interests not be returned to his or her parents because of their abuse, etc.

The applicant must make the application on form I-360, which is filed after he is declared as dependent by the court in his or her jurisdiction. For immigration purposes, the applicant can still adjust status even if he entered the U.S. without inspection, or as EWI.

The Form I-360 and the Form I-485, Application to adjust status, can be filed together. Most important is that USCIS will check to make sure that the application made above was not to receive any immigration benefit but rather because the applicant's parents cannot or are not willing to take care of him or her. It is advised that the applicant and his attorney request that the Court makes detailed findings in its Decision, therefore making it simpler for USCIS to determine why the order of dependency was entered by the Court. There are specific requirements that must be made by the Court in their dependency order, and so consultation with an immigration attorney experienced in SIJ cases is important.

In my dealings with SIJ cases, I have been told by USCIS officers and the Immigration Court in Orlando, FL that these cases are relatively rare and underutilized. Therefore be sure your immigration lawyer has done the proper research to ensure that all the requirements are met. After all, once the applicant turns 21 years of age, USCIS may find that the applicant is no longer eligible for this relief.

Settlement Information

If you filed an SIJ application on or after May 13, 2005 and USCIS denied that application, USCIS is recommending that a motion to reopen be filed as there are new developments in this area of law. USCIS did not state that you must still be less than 21 years of age, and so even if you are over 21 years of age, it may still be possible for you to prevail on the motion to reopen. Please see the link below for information on who qualifies for the motion to reopen.

The motion to reopen is made on form I-290B. For details on how to file the motion to reopen, please go to the following link:


Lena Korial-Yonan, P.A.
9425 Craven Road, Suite 5
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Phone: (904) 448-6646
Facsimile: (904) 448-8221

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