A juvenile from a foreign country, living in the United States and needing protection of a juvenile court because they have been abandoned, abused, or ignored by a parent, might be entitled for classification of Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ). If SIJ classification is given, the juvenile may alsomeet the requirements for lawful permanent residency (referred to as getting a Green Card). A juvenile attorney who works with immigration law offices can help with this problem.


To apply for SIJ classification, the juvenile must have a valid court order issued by a juvenile court.

Valid State Court Orders

To establish entitlement for SIJ classification, a juvenile court in the United States that has jurisdiction under state law to make judicial decision about the custody and care of children must make the first determination. The type and title of court that might meet the definition of a juvenile court will vary from different states.

Juvenile courts

Juvenile courts in each state make decisions and issue orders on child welfare based on state laws determining dependency or custody, whether a child can be reunified with his or her parents and what is in the best interest of the child. The court order and/or supplemental evidence submitted must also establish that the court has knowledgeable jurisdiction to issue its rulings under the applicable state laws.

No Authority

Although state courts have the right to offer certain child welfare protections for children under state law, they do not have the right to administer or enforce requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Only USCIS can give or deny SIJ classification or lawful permanent residence which means a green card.

RequiredDeterminations in the State Court Order

The court order from the juvenile court must have the needed determinations made under applicable state law regarding custody or dependency, parental reunification, and best interests. Evidence of a reasonable factual basis for each of the legal findings must also be submitted.

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