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Eligibility Status for SIJ

To petition for SIJ you must have a state court order that contains certain findings, USCIS uses to determine your status. The state court may be called "juvenile court", "family court", "orphan’s court", or some other name, depending on which state it is in. The court must have the authority under state law to decide on the custody and care of children.

Actions State Court Must Take

A state court in the United States must decide:

  • To declare that you are a dependent of the court or to legally place you with a state agency, a private agency, or a private person and
  • It is not in your best interests to return to your home country (or the country you last lived in) and
  • You cannot be reunited with a parent because of ANY of the following:
    • Abuse
    • Abandonment
    • Neglect
    • Similar reason under state law

Eligibility Requirements 

To be eligible for SIJ status:

  • You must be under 21 years old on the filing date of the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
  • Your state court order must be in effect on the filing date of the Form I-360 and when USCIS makes a decision on your application, unless you “aged out” of the state court’s jurisdiction due to no fault of your own
  • You cannot be married, both when you file your application and when USCIS makes a decision on your application
    • “Not married” includes a child whose marriage ended because of:
      • Annulment
      • Divorce
      • Death
  • You must be inside the United States at the time of filing the Form I-360

If you are in the legal custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • You must request permission from HHS for the court to legally place you somewhere else
  • You do not need to request permission from HHS if the state court does not place you somewhere else.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/12/2011