Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: State Custody Orders Granted in the Nick of Time


Our firm recently represented a young woman who left her country seeking a better future for herself in the United States, as her devastating situation left her with no choice. The young woman’s father was never in the picture, and shortly after she was born, her mother immigrated to the U.S. The young woman stayed behind and was raised by her grandmother, who is growing old and ill.

The young woman entered the U.S. in January and was detained at the border, but was later released to her mother. The mother did not know that her daughter had any options of legally remaining in the U.S., and by the time that they came to Fayad Law there were only a few weeks left.

It was immediately clear that filing for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) would be this young woman’s only way of legally remaining in the U.S., so we quickly joined forces with a local non-profit organization.

The state court ordered that it was not in the young woman’s best interest to return to her country and that reunification with her father would not be viable because he abandoned her at a very young age. Thus she was declared a dependent that is to remain in her mother’s custody.

Just in the nick of time we filed her application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and included the state court’s Custody Order. With SIJS the young woman will be able to obtain a social security card, a driver’s license, and other very important benefits. Most importantly, her deportation case will be closed and she will not have to return to her country of origin.

Unfortunately, not all young unaccompanied minors win this race against time. Many unaccompanied minors do know that SIJS is an option and miss the very important deadline – in most states, Custody Orders must be obtained before the minor’s 18th birthday. However, some states, including New York and New Jersey, allow custody claims to be brought until a child’s 21st birthday. This extended deadline provides the opportunity to seek a Custody Order to a greater number of unaccompanied minors.

The timing for these cases is very sensitive and lawyers often work against the clock to obtain successful results in both the state action and in filing the SIJS application with USCIS. Winning this race against time means that our young client could someday file for a green card, which would open up a world of opportunities!

Attorney Yesenia L. Polanco-Galdamez practices immigration law and criminal defense at Fayad Law, P.C.’s North Carolina office. Contact the firm to discuss your case and legal options.

Disclaimer: Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. Any testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.