On March 7, 2022, USCIS announced a new policy directed at young individuals who have been granted special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) but are not yet eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency. Under this new policy, which goes into effect on May 6, 2022, USCIS will consider granting these individuals deferred action, which will then allow them to apply for employment authorization while they wait for the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.
SIJS is a classification that is available to noncitizen children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. A state court must first make a finding that a noncitizen child has been abused, abandoned, or neglected, and with that finding the individual can file an I-360 petition with USCIS to be classified as a special immigrant juvenile. After the petition has been approved, the final step is filing an application for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residency.
Unfortunately, there are per-country limitations on the number of applications for permanent residency can be approved in a given year. This means that applicants from certain countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, are stuck in a backlog and must wait years before being able to apply for permanent residency.
This new policy will allow those individuals to be considered for deferred action. A grant of deferred action will offer these individuals temporary protection from deportation, and the opportunity to apply for employment authorization while they wait to apply for permanent residency.
In its March 7th announcement, USCIS explained that individuals with SIJS who are stuck in the backlog will be automatically considered for deferred action. USCIS will notify these individuals, and if deferred action is granted in their case, they may then apply for employment authorization.
If you have any questions about SIJS or how this new policy may affect your case, please contact us!
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