Chapter 3 - Documentation and Evidence

A petitioner seeking special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification must submit all of the following documentation to USCIS:

  • Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360); [1]

  • A copy of the petitioner’s birth certificate or other evidence of the petitioner’s age; [2] 

  • ​Copies of the juvenile court order (or orders) and administrative document (or orders), as applicable, that establish eligibility and evidence of the factual basis for the juvenile court’s findings; and

  • A copy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) consent, if applicable. 

The petitioner may file Form I-360 alone or concurrently with his or her Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), if there is an immigrant visa currently available for the SIJ immigrant classification and he or she is otherwise eligible. [3] 

A. Juvenile Court Orders and Administrative Documents

1. Qualifying Juvenile Court Proceedings

​A juvenile court is defined as a U.S. court having jurisdiction under state law to make judicial determinations about the custody and care of children. [4] The title and the type of court that may meet the definition of a juvenile court will vary from state to state. Examples of state courts that may meet this definition include: juvenile, family, dependency, orphans, guardianship, probate, and delinquency courts.

The juvenile court may make the required determination that it is not in the petitioner’s best interest to be returned (to a placement) in the petitioner’s or his or her parent’s country of nationality or last habitual residence. However, other judicial or administrative bodies authorized or recognized by a juvenile court may also make this required determination. If a particular juvenile court establishes or endorses an alternate process for a best interest determination, a finding from that process may satisfy this requirement.

2. Findings [5]

​The juvenile court order (or orders) must provide the required findings regarding dependency or custody, parental reunification, and best interests. These findings may be made in a single juvenile court order or in separate juvenile court orders. The order (or orders) should use language establishing that the specific findings (conclusions of law) were made under state law. The order (or orders) should not just mirror or cite to immigration law and regulations. The juvenile court order may use different legal terms than those found in the INA as long as the findings have the same meaning as the requirements for SIJ classification. [6] 

There is nothing in USCIS guidance that should be construed as instructing juvenile courts on how to apply their own state law. Juvenile courts should follow their state laws on issues such as when to exercise their authority, evidentiary standards, and due process. 

The language of the order may vary based on individual state child welfare law. If a juvenile court order makes the findings based upon a state law similar to abuse, neglect, or abandonment, [7] the petitioner must establish that the nature and elements of the state law are indeed similar to the nature and elements of laws on abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Petitioners are encouraged to submit the juvenile court’s findings of how the basis is similar to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and copies of the relevant laws.

3. Factual Basis and USCIS Consent

Template orders that simply recite the immigration statute or regulatory language are generally not sufficient. Orders that have the necessary findings or rulings and include, or are supplemented by, the factual basis for the court’s findings (for example, the judicial findings of fact) are usually sufficient to establish eligibility. If a petitioner cannot obtain a court order that includes facts that establish a factual basis for all of the required findings, USCIS may request evidence of the factual basis for the court’s findings.

USCIS does not require specific documents to establish the factual basis or the entire record considered by the court. However, the burden is on the petitioner to provide the factual basis for the court’s findings. Examples of documents that a petitioner may submit to USCIS that may support the factual basis for the court order include: 

  • Any supporting documents submitted to the juvenile court, if available;

  • The petition for dependency or complaint for custody or other documents which initiated the juvenile court proceedings;

  • ​Affidavits summarizing the evidence presented to the court and records from the judicial proceedings; and

  • Affidavits or records that are consistent with the findings made by the court.

4. Supporting Evidence

The order or supporting evidence should specifically indicate:​

  • With whom the child is placed (for example, the name of the person, or entity, or agency if the child is adjudicated dependent) and the factual basis for this finding;

  • Which of the specific grounds (abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar basis under state law) apply to which of the parent (or parents) and the factual basis for the court’s findings on non-viability of parental reunification; and

  • ​The factual basis for the determination that it is not in the petitioner’s best interest to return to (a placement in) the petitioner’s or his or her parents’ country of nationality or last habitual residence (for example, addressing family reunification with family that remains in the child’s country of nationality or last habitual residence).

B. Limitations on Additional Evidence

​USCIS is mindful that there are often confidentiality rules that govern disclosure of records from juvenile-related proceedings. For this reason, officers generally do not request information or documents from sources other than the SIJ petitioner or his or her legal representative. [8] 

Children often do not share personal accounts of their family life with an unknown adult until they have had the opportunity to form a trusting relationship with that adult. Therefore, officers exercise careful judgment when considering statements made by children at the time of initial apprehension by immigration or law enforcement officers to question the findings made by the juvenile court. 

Additionally, the juvenile court may make child welfare placement, custody, and best interest decisions that differ from the child’s stated intentions at the time of apprehension. However, if there is significant contradictory information in the file that the juvenile court was likely not aware of or that may impact whether a reasonable factual basis exists for the court’s findings, officers may request additional evidence from the petitioner or his or her legal representative.

However, officers may not require or request an SIJ petitioner to contact the person or family members of the person who allegedly abused, neglected, or abandoned the SIJ petitioner. [9] 


1. [^] See Instructions for Form I-360. There is no fee to file Form I-360 to seek SIJ classification.

2. [^] For more information on evidence that can be used to provide proof of age see 8 CFR 204.11(d)(1).

3. [^]For information on SIJ-based adjustment of status, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part F, Special Immigrant-Based (EB-4) Adjustment, Chapter 7, Special Immigrant Juvenile [7 USCIS-PM F.7].

4. [^]See 8 CFR 204.11(a).

5. [^] The term “findings” refers to the conclusions of law. 

6. [^] See 101(a)(27)(J).

7. [^] For example, under Connecticut law, a child may be found “uncared for” if the child is “homeless” or if his or her “home cannot provide the specialized care that the physical, emotional or mental condition of the child requires.” See Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. section 46b-120(9). “Uncared for” may be similar to abuse, neglect, or abandonment because children found “uncared for” are equally entitled to juvenile court intervention and protection. The outcomes for children found “uncared for” are the same as they are for children found abused, neglected, or abandoned.See Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. section 46b-120(8),(9); 121(a).

8. [^] USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officers conducting fraud investigations follow separate FDNS procedures on documentation requests.

9. [^] See Violence Against Women Act of 2005, Pub. L. 109-162 (January 5, 2006), codified at INA 287(h).


No appendices available at this time.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

October 08, 2019

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].



POLICY ALERT - Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Special Immigrant-Based Adjustment of Status

October 26, 2016

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance regarding the special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification and special immigrant-based (EB-4) adjustment of status, including adjustment based on classification as a special immigrant religious worker, SIJ, and G-4 international organization or NATO-6 employee or family member, among others.


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