Current foster youth who are currently undocumented may have a pathway to lawful permanent resident status (“Green Card”) by qualifying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Once the Juvenile Court has determined that a child meets the criteria for SIJS, a separate referral is made to SISU to begin the process.
In 2008, SIJS eligibility was expanded to include undocumented youth who meet the following criteria:
- Youth who are current dependents of the Juvenile Court
- Youth whose reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis found in state law
- Youth whose best interest it is NOT to return to his or her country of nationality or last habitual residence.
- Youth who are unmarried and under the age of 21 in the United States.
Children who receive SIJS will not be at risk of deportation and may remain in the United States legally and provide them a pathway to permanent residency. SIJS also entitles children to qualify for state sponsored programs, financial aid, transitional housing, and other supportive programs.
*DCFS requests that any referrals be sent prior to the child’s 18th birthday to ensure that the Predicate Orders are signed in sufficient time by the Dependency Court judge. Federal rules do not always accept Predicate Orders signed after the child reaches the age of 18.
Learn more about the Special Immigrant Juvenile status or speak to your social worker for more information.
At the very end of this Fox News interview with Travis and Sharla Kall, the foster parents who were asked to take in 26 migrant children, Sharla tries to make the point that if children go into foster care, there is a federal law that allows migrant children who enter foster care to gain citizenship immediately.