New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Discusses Minors Remaining in the U.S. if Detained
As a dedicated New Jersey Immigration Lawyer, clients often ask me about minors and if there is a chance they can stay in the U.S. if they get detained. Sometimes relatives or friends of the young people who are abandoned, neglected youths come to my office. Recently one gentleman said to me, “My nephew is 16 now and he came to the US, came across the border. He was detained at the border and sent to one of the government youth homes, the youth center. After a while he was released but recently we received a letter, correspondence from the immigration court that he has to appear for a hearing in the future.
The situation with the abandoned and neglected young people is as follows. There’s a terrific program called Special Immigrant Juvenile Program or SIJ, and if someone qualifies they can apply for a work permit and a green card. Some of the requirements are: they have to be under 21 years old, they have to be considered abandoned or neglected, not under the care of their parents. In certain states care of one parent is possible as long as they were abandoned by the other, but some states require abandonment by both parents. Many times they have to be in school, but not always.
There has to be a court order by a local family court that they are considered abandoned, sometimes a ward of the state and that custody has been awarded either to the court or to another person who is not their parent. If these requirements are met, it is very possible to proceed with a SIJ case.
There’s a second stage filing, which is the I-360 petition. Very often the young people can adjust their status here in the U.S. If they are in a deportation proceeding. This would occur in front of the judge in the immigration court unless the judge remands the case to immigration, but it is a wonderful opportunity to obtain a work permit and a Green Card that could totally change the life of these young people that come across the border with no documents.
Do you know that there are possibilities out there for minors who are detained at the border? Contact our professional New Jersey Immigration Lawyer for advice.