What is a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is eligibility for a green card or for legal permanent residency. It is open for minors under the age of 21 who are physically present in the United States but cannot be reunited with a parent because the parent is guilty of abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child. Thus, the child can apply for and obtain legal permanent residency in the US even without his or her parents. This special immigrant juvenile status was created in 1990 to grant to the victims of child trafficking US permanent legal residency status.
For a child under 21 to qualify for this status, state agencies such as child services or family courts must declare that the child is in the custody of the state but it is not in the best interest of the child to be reunited with his or her parents. The state must also make a finding that the child is not married, or that the child’s marriage has been annulled, or that the child has been divorced, or that the child’s spouse has died.

Normally, the United States does not admit aliens for legal permanent residency when they have a mental or other disorder that renders him or her a danger to other people and to their property but in the special immigrant, juvenile can be admitted as long as he or she is obtaining medical treatment to control the mental disorder. Other aliens may not be admitted if they are a prostitute or pimp but the special immigrant juvenile may be admitted even if they have been forced into prostitution. The US will deny admission to a drug dealer or a drug addict or a drug abuser but a special immigrant juvenile may be admitted even if the child has been convicted of possession of prohibited drugs and only up to .30 grams of marijuana. The special immigrant may still be admitted even if he or she has smuggled his or her family into the US.

Other aliens will be denied entry if they have entered the United States illegally, or entered the United States as a stowaway by hiding in an airplane or boat, or even if they have no valid passport or visa or means with which to support himself. The special immigrant juvenile can still be admitted as a legal permanent resident even if these circumstances are present.

The only condition imposed on the special immigrant juvenile is that the child cannot ever petition the USCIS to issue a green card for his or her parents. The child can petition the USCIS to issue a green card to his or her brothers or sisters only after he or she becomes a US citizen