Green Card Based on Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification
The Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification provides certain children who have been subject to state juvenile court proceedings related to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law the ability to seek lawful permanent residence in the United States. USCIS determines if a juvenile meets the requirements for SIJ classification by adjudicating a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. For more information on the SIJ classification, see USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part J – Special Immigrant Juveniles.
This page provides specific information for foreign nationals in the United States who want to apply for lawful permanent resident status based on SIJ classification. This is called “adjustment of status.” You should also read the Instructions for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (PDF, 545 KB) before you apply. For more information on adjustment of status based on SIJ classification, see USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 7, Part F, Chapter 7 – Special Immigrant Juveniles.
Eligibility for Adjustment of Status
In order to be eligible for a Green Card as an SIJ, you must meet the following requirements:
- You properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
- You were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States (see below);
- You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your Form I‑485;
- You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa (see below);
- An immigrant visa is immediately available to you when you file your Form I-485 and at the time USCIS makes a final decision on your application;
- None of the applicable bars to adjustment of status apply to you;
- You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief; and
- You merit the favorable exercise of USCIS’ discretion.
Inspected and Admitted or Inspected and Paroled
If USCIS approved your Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, you are classified as an SIJ. SIJs are deemed paroled for the purpose of applying for adjustment of status. USCIS will consider you paroled when adjudicating your Form I-485 regardless of how you arrived in the United States.
Eligibility to Receive an Immigrant Visa
In order to be eligible to receive an immigrant visa, you must:
- Have an approved Form I-360 classifying you as an SIJ;
- Have a pending Form I-360 (that is ultimately approved); or
- File a Form I-360 (and the Form I-360 is ultimately approved) together with your Form I-485.
There is no age limit for when you must apply for a Green Card as an SIJ. If you were under 21 years old on the date you properly filed your Form I-360, we will not deny your SIJ‑based Form I-485 just based on age if you are older than 21 at the time of filing or adjudication of Form I-485. Furthermore, you must be unmarried at the time of filing the adjustment application and at the time of final adjudication of the form.
Bars to Adjustment
If you committed a particular act or violation of immigration law, you may be barred from adjusting status. If you are classified as an SIJ, you are exempt from all bars to adjustment except the terrorist-related adjustment bar in section 245(c)(6) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There is no waiver of or exemption to this adjustment bar, so you will be ineligible for adjustment of status if this adjustment bar applies to you.
Grounds of Inadmissibility
To qualify for a Green Card, you must be admissible to the United States. Reasons why you may be inadmissible are listed in INA 212(a) and are called grounds of inadmissibility.
In general, USCIS can only approve your Green Card application if none of the grounds of inadmissibility apply to you. As an SIJ, you are exempt from some of the grounds of inadmissibility listed in INA 212(a). See USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part F, Special Immigrant-Based Adjustment, Chapter 7, Special Immigrant Juveniles, Section C for the grounds you are exempt from.
If you are inadmissible, the law may provide for a waiver of the particular grounds of inadmissibility or another form of relief that can overcome the inadmissibility. You may apply for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief by using Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility and Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal. If a waiver or other form of relief is granted, USCIS may approve your application for a Green Card if you are otherwise eligible.
Whether a waiver or other form of relief is available depends on the specific inadmissibility grounds that apply to you and the category you are adjusting under. Eligibility requirements for waivers and other forms of relief vary.
How to Apply
Immigrant visas for SIJs come from the employment-based fourth preference (EB-4) immigrant visa category for special immigrants.
If you are currently in the United States and an EB-4 immigrant visa is immediately available to you, you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to apply for a Green Card without leaving the country. If a visa is immediately available, you may file your Form I-485:
- Together (“concurrently (PDF, 233 KB)”) with Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant;
- While the Form I-360 is pending; or
- After Form I-360 is approved (and remains valid).
Note: If you are in removal proceedings, USCIS generally does not have jurisdiction over your application for a Green Card unless you are an arriving alien or until the removal proceedings are terminated.
What to Submit
You must submit the following documentation and evidence to apply to adjust status:
- Copy of the Form I-797, Approval or Receipt Notice, for your Form I-360 SIJ petition (unless you are filing the Form I-360 together with the Form I-485);
- Two passport style photographs;
- Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph (if available);
- Copy of your birth certificate;
- Copy of your passport page with your nonimmigrant visa (if applicable);
- Copy of your passport page with your admission or parole stamp (if applicable);
- Copy of your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or copy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable);
- Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic I-94 upon arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (you may submit this form together with Form I-485 or later when we request it);
- Certified police and court records of any juvenile delinquency findings, criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (if applicable);
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable);
- Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable); and
- Documentation of past or present J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status (if applicable), including proof of compliance with or waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement under INA 212(e) (for more information, see Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement).
No one may file as a derivative applicant of an SIJ. However, you may petition for qualifying family members through family-based immigration after we grant you a Green Card.
Please note that if you are granted a Green Card based on your SIJ classification and you later naturalize, you cannot apply for your natural or prior adoptive parents to get a Green Card. This applies even to a non-abusive, custodial parent.
Employment and Travel Authorization
Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, you may apply for employment authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
If you need to leave the United States temporarily while your Form I-485 is pending, please see Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and its instructions for more information. Generally, if you have a pending Form I-485 and you leave the United States without an advance parole document, you will have abandoned your application.
For more information, see the following:
- INA 101(a)(27)(J) – Special Immigrant Juveniles
- INA 203(b)(4) – Certain special immigrants
- INA 212(a) – Classes of Aliens Ineligible for Visas or Admission
- INA 245(a) – Adjustment of Status of Nonimmigrant to that of a Person Admitted for Permanent Residence
- INA 245(h) – Application with respect to special immigrants
- 8 CFR 245 – Adjustment of Status to that of a Person Admitted for Permanent Residence
- 8 CFR 245.1(e)(3) – Special Immigrant Juveniles
- 8 CFR 204.11- Special immigrant status for certain aliens declared dependent on a juvenile court. (Note: Regulations do not reflect subsequent legislative changes and court decisions. Please refer to USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part J, Special Immigrant Juveniles for current policy.)
- Section 153 of the Immigration Act of 1990
- Section 302 of Miscellaneous and Technical Immigration and Nationality Amendments of 1991 (PDF)
- Section 113 of Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1998 (PDF)
- Section 235(d) of William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) (PDF) – Permanent Protection for Certain At-Risk Children
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part J, Special Immigrant Juveniles
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 7, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 7, Part F, Special Immigrant-Based (EB-4) Adjustment, Chapter 7, Special Immigrant Juveniles
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 8, Admissibility
- USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 9, Waivers