On March 7th, 2022, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced updated policies. These policy updates will better protect juvenile immigrants who are victims of maltreatment such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment. An updated policy manual with the updated policies will be effective starting May 6th, 2022.
USCIS director Ur Jaddou, said, “Today, we are taking action to help immigrant children in the U.S. who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned and offer them protection to help rebuild their lives. These policies will provide humanitarian protection to vulnerable young people for whom a juvenile court has determined that it is in their best interest to remain in the United States.”
New Policies for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
New policy updates include specifics regarding age and those who turn 21 years old while their petition is still pending approval. This new update protects those who applied before 21 years old and haven’t heard back with a decision until after they turn 21 years old.
In addition to age adjustments, the USCIS is hoping to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program in order to be able to provide eligible participants with the chance to apply for permanent residence status in the United States.
New regulations include being given SIJ classification when evidence of maltreatment has been shown. It is also noted that individuals are not required to contact their abuser in order for USCIS to make a decision on their case.
Important to be noted as well, is that any SIJ petitioner has the right to an attorney or representative for themselves. Trusted adults and parents are also able to be present for an interview but only attorneys and representatives are able to make a statement during these interviews.
Updated Policy Manual
As mentioned previously, the USCIS is updating the USCIS Policy Manual. Changes to the policy manual include employment authorization for noncitizens who are classified as SIJs who are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence status due to the fact their visa is not immediately available. This employment authorization will provide assistance to noncitizens and allow them to work and gain financial stability while waiting for a valid visa number in the United States.
For more information or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. At Schehr Law PLLC we offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. The immigration process can be long and stressful, it is important to reach out to an attorney who has experience in this area to assist with your case.