Special Immigrant Juveniles
If you are in the United States and need the protection of a juvenile court because you have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent, you may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. If SIJ classification is granted, you may qualify for lawful permanent residency (also known as getting a Green Card).
You must meet all of the statutory requirements outlined below to be eligible for SIJ classification. The requirements can also be found at INA § 101(a)(27)(J); 8 CFR § 204.11; and USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part J- Special Immigrant Juveniles.
Be under 21 years of age.
Only at the time you file the SIJ petition (Form I-360).
|Be currently living in the United States. You cannot apply from outside the country to come to the United States on SIJ classification.||Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.|
Be unmarried. This means you either:
Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
Have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the United States which finds that:
Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
EXCEPTIONS: You do not need to currently be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court that issued your order if the court’s jurisdiction ended solely because:
|Be eligible for USCIS consent. This means that you must have sought the juvenile court order to obtain relief from abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law and not primarily to obtain an immigration benefit.||At the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.|
Have written consent from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to the court’s jurisdiction if:
At the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.Please see the HHS website for instructions on obtaining HHS consent.
To apply for SIJ classification, you must have a valid court order issued by a juvenile court.
Valid State Court Orders
For establishing eligibility for SIJ classification, a juvenile court is a court in the United States that has jurisdiction under state law to make judicial determinations about the dependency and/or custody and care of juveniles. The title and the type of court that may meet the definition of a juvenile court will vary from state to state.
State juvenile courts issue orders and make decisions based on ;state law about dependency or custody; whether a juvenile has been abused, neglected, abandoned, or subject to similar maltreatment and consequently cannot be reunified with his or her parent(s); and the best interests of the juvenile. USCIS does not require that a juvenile court have the legal authority to place a child in the custody of an unfit parent in order to make a qualifying reunification determination for SIJ classification.
The court order and/or supplemental evidence submitted, however, must establish that the court had competent jurisdiction to make judicial determinations about the SIJ petitioner’s dependency and/or custody and care as a juvenile under the relevant state laws.
Although state courts have the authority to provide certain protections for children under state law, they do not have the authority to administer or enforce provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Only USCIS can grant or deny SIJ classification or lawful permanent residence (a Green Card).
Required Determinations in the State Court Order
The juvenile court order must contain the required determinations made under relevant state law regarding dependency or custody, parental reunification and best interests. You must submit evidence of a reasonable factual basis for each of the judicial determinations and the relief from parental maltreatment ordered by the juvenile court.
You can find more information about the eligibility requirements for SIJ classification and the court orders in the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part J – Special Immigrant Juveniles.
To petition for SIJ classification, you must file the following forms and supporting documentation with USCIS:
- Evidence of your age. You must submit one of the following (also submit a certified English translation, if applicable):
- Birth certificate;
- Official identity document issued by a foreign government, such as a cartilla or a cedula; or
- Other documents that satisfactorily establish your age.
- Valid juvenile court order(s) that make the required determinations and include or are supported by evidence of the factual basis for the court’s determinations.
- Written consent (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) if you are in HHS custody and the juvenile court order also changes your custody status or placement.
- Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, if you have an attorney or accredited representative who represents you.
You must file Form I-360 for SIJ classification before your 21st birthday. See 8 CFR 204.11(b). Sometimes, circumstances such as mailing delays or state court delays in obtaining a required juvenile court order might prevent you from timely filing your petition before your 21st birthday. To help you file Form I-360 before your 21st birthday, we will allow you to file the Form I-360 in person at a USCIS field office within 2 weeks before you turn 21.
You (or your attorney or accredited representative) may contact the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to request an SIJ expedite appointment with a USCIS field office to file the Form I-360 in person within the 2 weeks before your 21st birthday. At the appointment, the field office will accept the Form I-360 and date-stamp the first page. The field office will give you a photocopy of the first page of the Form I-360 and will send the form and any supporting documents to the USCIS Lockbox for receipting.
The USCIS Lockbox will follow standard receipting procedures. They may reject your Form I-360 if you file it improperly (for example, if you do not sign it). If the USCIS Lockbox receipts your Form I-360, they will issue a Form I-797, Notice of Action, using the date the USCIS field office physically received your Form I-360 as the receipt date.
On May 6, 2022, USCIS implemented updated guidance (PDF, 323.28 KB) to consider deferred action for noncitizens with an approved Form I-360 for SIJ classification who cannot apply for adjustment of status solely because an immigrant visa number is not immediately available. Deferred action is an act of prosecutorial discretion that defers proceedings to remove a noncitizen from the United States for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
A separate request for deferred action is not required for noncitizens with SIJ classification who are ineligible to adjust status solely because an immigrant visa number is not immediately available. USCIS automatically conducts deferred action determinations for such persons. A separate request for deferred action will not be accepted by USCIS.
If USCIS grants you deferred action, we will notify you. SIJ classified noncitizens who have moved since their Form I-360 was approved should update their address with USCIS to ensure that they receive immigration-related correspondence, including correspondence related to deferred action. More information on changing your address with USCIS can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/addresschange.
If you are an SIJ who has been granted deferred action, you may apply for and be granted employment authorization for the period of deferred action. SIJs granted deferred action who wish to apply for employment authorization must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, indicating eligibility category (c)(14). The application for employment authorization must be filed after a grant of deferred action. Form I-765WS is not required; however, the Form I-765 must be accompanied by the proper fee or a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Go to Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for more information on where to file.
For additional information on deferred action for SIJs who cannot apply for adjustment of status solely because an immigrant visa number is not immediately available, go to Volume 6, Part J: Special Immigrant Juveniles, Chapter 4- Adjudication, Section G. Deferred Action.
If you have been granted SIJ classification (which means your Form I-360 petition has been approved), you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is also known as applying for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status or adjustment of status.
Petition and Application Processing
If an immigrant visa is immediately available, you may generally file your Form I-360 and Form I-485 at the same time. Immigrant visas for SIJs come from the employment-based fourth preference (EB-4) immigrant visa category for special immigrants. For more information on immigrant visa availability, go to our Visa Availability and Priority Dates page.
If an immigrant visa is not available, you may still file your Form I-360, but you will need to wait to file your Form I-485. Go to the Green Card Based on Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification page for more information.
After you file your Form I-360, USCIS will:
- Send you a Notice of Action, which is your receipt showing the official filing date and receipt number.
- Contact you for additional evidence if we need it to make a decision on your case.
If you have also filed your Form I-485, USCIS will:
- Send you a notice for an appointment to have your fingerprints and photographs taken (also known as biometrics).
- Ask you to submit Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, if you did not submit it with the Form I-485, or if you previously submitted it but the medical exam has expired.
- Contact you for additional evidence or for an interview with an immigration services officer, if needed, to make a decision on your case.
Note: When you apply for SIJ classification or for a Green Card based on SIJ classification, we will NOT require you to contact the individual or family members of the individual who abused, abandoned or neglected you.
USCIS generally makes decisions on SIJ petitions within 180 days (about six months) from your official filing date. If you did not submit sufficient evidence to establish your eligibility, the case processing clock stops the day USCIS sends you a Request for Evidence (RFE) and resumes the day USCIS receives your response to the RFE.
While USCIS generally adjudicates Form I-360 petitions for SIJ classification within 180 days, this time frame does not apply to Form I-485.
SIJ Petition (Form I-360)
- If we approve your SIJ petition, we will send you an approval notice.
- If we deny your SIJ petition, we will send you a written decision telling you why and how you can appeal the decision.
Green Card Based on SIJ Classification (Form I-485)
- If we approve your Green Card application, we will send you an approval notice. You become a lawful permanent resident on the date we approve your Form I-485. The approval date will appear in the approval notice mailed to you and on your Green Card (also called a Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551).
- If we deny your application, we will send you a written decision telling you why. You cannot appeal the denial, but you may file a motion to reopen or reconsider, or renew the application in immigration court. The denial notice should include instructions for filing a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
You can check your case status online or ask about your case by calling us at 800-375-5283 or by making an InfoPass appointment if your petition and/or application is pending at a USCIS field office.
Resources for State Juvenile Courts and Child Welfare Agencies
- Brochure: Immigration Relief for Abused Children (PDF, 317.49 KB)
- Outreach Requests and General Questions
- State juvenile courts and state and county-administered child welfare agencies may ask USCIS general questions about the SIJ program or request that a USCIS representative speak with them about the SIJ program. Submit a request by emailing USCIS-IGAOutreach@uscis.dhs.gov.
- State juvenile courts and child welfare agencies may contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations at 866-DHS-2-ICE with concerns about human smuggling and trafficking.
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
- Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver
- Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination
- Case-specific inquiries:
- Go to Case Status Online page
- Call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283
- USCIS Policy Manual guidance
- Volume 6, Part J: Special Immigrant Juveniles
- Volume 7, Part F: Special Immigrant-Based (EB-4) Adjustment of Status, Chapter 7, Special Immigrant Juveniles
A.O. et al. v Jaddou Class Members
- Notice of Final Class Action Settlement in A.O. et al. v Jaddou, et al., No. 19-cv-6151 (N.D. Cal)
- Final Settlement Agreement in A.O. et al. v Jaddou, et al., No. 19-cv-6151 (N.D. Cal) (PDF, 2.04 MB)
- Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement - A.O. et al. v Jaddou, et al., No. 19-cv-6151 (N.D. Cal) (PDF, 304.76 KB)
J.L. v. Cuccinelli Class Members
- Notice of Final Class Action Settlement- J.L. v. Cuccinelli, 18-CV-4914 (N.D. Cal.)
- J.L et al., v. Cuccinelli et al., Northern District of California Civil Action No. 5:18-CV-4914-NC (DMR) (PDF, 2.03 MB)
R.F.M v. Nielsen Class Members
- Class Notice - R.F.M. v. Nielsen, 18-CV-5068 (SDNY)
- Amended Judgment - R.F.M. v. Nielsen, 18-CV-5068 (SDNY) (May 31, 2019) (PDF, 181.38 KB)
- Direct Filing Address for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion for R.F.M. Class Members
Saravia v. Barr Class Members
- Settlement Agreement- Saravia v. Barr, 3:17-cv-03615 (N.D. Cal.) (PDF)
- Direct Filing Address for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion for Saravia Class Members
Unaccompanied Child (UC) Resources
- Office of Refugee Resettlement, Unaccompanied Children’s Services Program
- Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program (URM)