Guardianship is very similar to custody. The greatest difference is that custody may be granted before a child reaches the age of eighteen years, while guardianship may be granted before the child reaches the age of twenty-one. There are also many procedural differences and differences in the nature of the orders the court issues. To see whether guardianship is right for you, it is best to consult with an attorney who can evaluate your specific circumstances and advise you on the best way to reach your goals. Please call our office if you would like to consult with an attorney.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) can be granted to undocumented children who have been neglected or abused by their parents. Children granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status are eligible to apply for legal immigration status that would allow them to permanently live and work in the United States. The process usually begins by filing a petition for guardianship and, once guardianship is granted, making an application to the Family Court for an order designating the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
In order to be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, the child must be:
- Under twenty-one years old;
- Declared dependent on a juvenile court;
- Unable to be reunited with one or both parents because of abuse, abandonment, neglect or other similar basis under state law; and
- It would not be in the child's best interests to return to the country of the nationality or last habitual residence of the child or the parents
Once Special Immigrant Juvenile Status has been granted by Family Court, the next step is to file Form I-360 and other supporting documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If you have questions about this process, please call our office. We handle all aspects of the process in Family Court and can refer you to attorneys who handle the immigration issues.