WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO ADJUST STATUS TO A LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT THROUGH SIJS?
In order to adjust status as a special immigrant juvenile, the applicant must:
1) be eligible to adjust status,
2) have an immediately available visa, and
3) demonstrate that they merit a favorable exercise of discretion.
What is my priority Date and How do I Find my Priority Date for SIJS?
The priority date or Final Action Date is the date that the Form I-360 was filed. You can find this date on the I-360 receipt notice or approval notice.
How do I know when my Priority Date is Current for SIJS?
The State Department issues a chart each month with visa availability for different visa categories and countries. This chart is called the Visa Bulletin and can be found online at:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html (or by searching for“Visa Bulletin”).
The Visa Bulletin is used to inform people which categories of visas are backlogged, versus current, and to track progress while waiting for a priority date to become current.
The Visa Bulletin has two charts within each of the Family-based and Employment-based categories: Chart A, “Final Action Dates,” and Chart B, “Dates for Filing.” By law, visas for special immigrant juveniles come from the employment-based 4th preference category, so for special immigrant juveniles, look to the Employment-based Preference Cases charts.
Look at Chart A, “FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES” under the Employment-based Preferences.
Check the USCIS website to see if you can rely upon Chart B for the current month: https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo.
If the USCIS website says you can use the “Dates for Filing” chart (Chart B) for the relevant month, then you can rely upon Chart B and may be able to file the I-485 even though a visa is not yet available.
If the USCIS website says you must use the “Final Action Dates” chart (Chart A), then you cannot rely upon Chart B, and must use Chart A. If you must use Chart A, then you cannot file the I-485 unless your client’s priority date is
1) earlier than the date that appears in the employment-based 4th preference category for your client’s country of origin, or
2) current, as reflected by a “C” appearing in the 4th preference category for your client’s country of origin.
In Chart A, look at the “4th” preference line for your country of origin. If there is a “C” that category is “current” and there are visas available, so you can file the I-485 regardless of your client’s priority date. If there is a date (example:15JAN17 (January 15, 2017), that means that a backlog exists, and you can only file the I-485 if your priority date is EARLIER than the date listed. When a backlog exists, predicting exactly when someone will be able to adjust status is impossible, and anyone who gives you an estimate is guessing.
In the image below the row with the preference category for SIJS cases is highlighted.
WHAT CAN I DO TO LIMIT THE WAIT TIME?
Start the process as soon as possible.
Submit an I-360 petition as soon as you get the family court orders.
Around the 15th of every month, the next month’s Visa Bulletin is usually posted online, so you can start getting the I-485 application ready to file if you see that your visa will be current in the coming month. The Visa Bulletin goes into effect on the first day of that month (January 2025 Visa Bulletin went into effect on January 1, 2025).
Check the Visa Bulletin for the current month as well as whether USCIS is allowing use of Chart B that month (if you hope to rely on Chart B to file early) before filing the I-485 to avoid having it rejected.
REMAIN ELIGIBLE UNTIL YOU COMPLETE THE PROCESS
You cannot get married until after your I-360 has been approved. UPDATED APRIL 2022
8 CFR § 204.11(b)(2) was updated and effective April 2022, SIJS applicant now required to remain unmarried only through the adjudication of the SIJS petition, rather than through the adjudication of the subsequent application for adjustment of status.
If you get into trouble with the law (arrests or criminal convictions) you may end up ineligible to adjust status through SIJS.
You must remain under the State Court’s jurisdiction until you are 21 or until you complete the process.
If you are in removal proceedings you will need to get those proceedings dismissed and should attend all Court dates until that happens. A removal order may complicate your case tremendously .
Deferred Action With Approved I-360
USCIS announced a new policy that went into effect on May 6, 2022 and that applies to young people who have been granted SIJS but are not yet able to apply for adjustment of
status because they are waiting for a visa to be available. The new policy provides that young people stuck in the visa backlog will be considered for deferred action on a case-by-case
basis. If deferred action is granted, it will be for a period of four years. Young people granted deferred action are then eligible to apply for an EAD for the period of deferred action by filing
an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765), indicating eligibility category (c)(14).
For more information on this new policy, see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Manual (USCIS-PM) J.4(G).