Prevent your child from being deported

There is a loophole in the immigration code that prevents a child from being deported if he has been declared "dependent" by a juvenile court.


The child must be the subject of a juvenile court order that declares him or her dependent on a juvenile court, or legally commits to or places the petitioner under the custody of either an agency or department of a state, or a person or entity appointed by a state or juvenile court.


Placing the petitioner “under the custody of” a person requires physical custody. A qualifying court-appointed custodial placement could be with one parent, if reunification with the other parent is found to be not viable due to that parent’s abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the petitioner.

Court-ordered dependency or custodial placements that are intended to be temporary generally do not qualify for the purpose of establishing eligibility for SIJ classification. A court-appointed custodian that is acting as a temporary guardian or caretaker of a child, taking on all or some of the responsibilities of a parent, is not considered a custodian for purposes of establishing SIJ eligibility.

Special immigrant juveniles

The special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) classification is available to children who have been subject to state juvenile court proceedings related to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law. If a juvenile court has made certain findings, under state law, on dependency or custody, parental reunification, and the best interests of the child, then the child may be eligible for SIJ classification.

USCIS determines if the petitioner meets the requirements for SIJ classification by adjudicating a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360). USCIS’ adjudication of the SIJ petition includes review of the petition, the juvenile court order (or orders), and supporting evidence to determine if the petitioner is eligible for SIJ classification. USCIS generally defers to the court on matters of state law and does not go behind the juvenile court order to reweigh evidence and make independent determinations about abuse, neglect, or abandonment.


General Eligibility Requirements for SIJ Classification

  • Physically present in the United States
  • Unmarried
  • Under the age of 21 on the date of filing the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360)
  • Juvenile court order (or orders) issued in the United States that meets the specified requirements
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security consent
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) consent, if applicable

We understand that your children are the most important thing in your life. That’s why we will fight for your children's rights. Even in the most frustrating situations, our dedicated Gadsden and Etowah County custody lawyers will push forward with smart strategies to keep your case on track. After all, our goal is to keep you focused on the positive outcome you want for your case and your family.

If you are facing a complicated child custody battle, contact us today to find out how our skilled and compassionate team will fight to protect the rights of you and your children at 256-547-1005.