U.S. Immigration for Children & Young Adults
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Deferred Action is a discretionary determination to defer or delay the removal (deportation) of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred Action does not confer legal status upon a foreign national, but it does enable a person to receive work authorization if they can demonstrate an “economic necessity for employment.”
In 2012, the Obama Administration announced a new form of Deferred Action called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. Pursuant to this policy, certain people who came to the United States as children and who met several other physical presence and educational requirements could request consideration for Deferred Action for a period of two years. If granted, the beneficiary received a two-year reprieve from deportation as well as work authorization.
In September 2017, the Trump Administration terminated the DACA program. A Federal Court injunction presently permits current DACA beneficiaries to renew their status, but USCIS is not accepting new applications for DACA at this time. Whether DACA will remain a viable alternative for individuals who do not have more permanent U.S. immigration options is dependent on the outcome of ongoing litigation in U.S. federal courts.
How we help: Our immigration attorneys watch DACA developments closely and advise our clients on their best options for immigration based on the current state of the law.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
SIJS, or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, is a classification under U.S. immigration law that enables certain undocumented children who have suffered abuse, abandonment, and/or neglect and who are present in the U.S. to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). Originally enacted in 1990, Congress amended the statute that governs SIJS in 2008. To qualify for SIJS, an applicant must be:
- under the age of 21;
- declared dependent in a juvenile court located in the U.S. or be legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, an individual or entity appointed by a state or juvenile court located in the U.S.;
- unable to reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment or similar basis found under state law; and
- someone who can demonstrate that it is in their best interest to remain in the U.S. and not return to their or their parents’ previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence.
Before a child can apply to USCIS for SIJS, a state court must issue an order making certain findings of fact, and the child must submit this order with their application for SIJS to USCIS. Depending on their country of nationality and if the child is or ever has been in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court, the child may simultaneously or subsequently file an Application for Adjustment of Status to become an LPR, provided they otherwise meets the eligibility requirements.
USCIS has released the following educational resources about Special Immigrant Juvenile status:
- Immigration Relief for Abused Children: Information for Juvenile Court Judges, Child Welfare Workers, and Others Working with Abused Children
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Information for Child Welfare Workers
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Information for Juvenile Courts
The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) also published this informative article on the Special Rules of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
How we help: Our attorneys have represented dozens of children in pursuing lawful permanent residency through SIJS. We represent SIJS clients and their families at every stage of the process, including before Maryland and DC courts, USCIS, and Immigration Courts. (For clients based in Virginia, we work with outside counsel for the state court portion of the case).
To speak with an immigration attorney about U.S. immigration for a child or young adult contact Grossman Young & Hammond.