Monday, March 29, 2021

USCIS Updates Policy Guidance for Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification

Effective March 18, USCIS has updated policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual (PDF, 362.73 KB) regarding the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification based on the settlement agreement resulting from the Saravia v. Barr class action lawsuit.

The SIJ classification allows certain children who have been subject to state juvenile court proceedings related to abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc., to apply for lawful permanent residence (a Green Card). USCIS must review an SIJ petitioner's juvenile court order and supporting evidence to determine whether they meet the requirements for SIJ classification. If they do, we consent to the SIJ classification. 

The Saravia v. Barr settlement agreement affects how we consent to the grant of SIJ classification, as well as the grounds on which we may revoke an SIJ petition. According to the update, we will not: 

  • Refuse to consent to a request for SIJ classification because the state court did not sufficiently consider evidence of the petitioner's gang affiliation when it decided whether to issue a dependency order or when it determined that it was not in the best interest of the child to return to their home country; 

  • Use our consent authority to reweigh the evidence the juvenile court considered when it issued the dependency order; or 

  • Revoke a petition for SIJ classification because the state court did not consider the petitioner's gang affiliation when it made its best interest determination. 

For more information, see the Policy Manual Update.

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