Looking at our law firm’s website, you might be asking yourself, why and how do immigration and family law intercept? Our immigration system favors family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, but that’s the obvious answer and leaves one wondering, but what do you need a divorce attorney for?
One prime example is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. This status is available to people who are under the age of twenty-one years and who meet a few criteria. In most cases, a lawyer knowledgeable about family law is the necessary first step.
In order to be eligible for SIJS, as immigration lawyers refer to it, this child must be under the age of twenty-one years and unmarried, is subject to the jurisdiction of a State court with powers over juveniles and families, the child cannot be reunited with one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment, neglect, or a similar reason under the home-state’s laws, and for whom the State court has determined that it is not in the best interest to return to the home country. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J). If the child applicant is determined to meet these criteria, the child will be deemed a “special immigrant juvenile” and could qualify for permanent residence.
The first step to obtaining SIJS is to put the child under the State court’s jurisdiction. This is where a family lawyer will come in helpful. A family lawyer will know all of the different options for getting a child under the jurisdiction of the State court. The courts can take jurisdiction in a few different ways, such as through dependency and neglect proceedings, a divorce, an allocation of parental rights, or a guardianship.
Once the court has jurisdiction over the child, there are local and state rules of civil procedure to follow, as well as rules about what type of evidence the court can take into account. Although all lawyers learn about evidence and procedure before they take the bar exam, each State and each court have their own small variations of these rules that the lawyers and anyone who files a case must follow. For example, in Colorado, everyone who uses a divorce case or an allocation of parental responsibilities case to ask for the SIJS findings must follow Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2, which governs all of the things that the parties to the case must share with each other before the Judge can make any findings at all, including SIJS findings. Also, Colorado has very strict rules about who can be a guardian, or who can ask for parental responsibilities over a child.
The Richards Law Office regularly helps children and the adult caring for them obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile findings. Whether you are only looking for a family attorney to help you get these findings, you are looking for someone to help you through the whole process of obtaining SIJS, including the State court orders and the immigration forms, or your child is in immigration court and needs help fighting their removal case by obtaining SIJS, the Richards Law Office can help your child stay in the U.S. with any step of the SIJ process.