• November 2016
  • Vol. 17, No. 8

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Policy Briefs on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

The Center for the Study of Social Policy released two policy briefs—one for practitioners and one for policymakers—exploring the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visa. The briefs note that the recent influx of migrant children to the United States, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, requires specific support services and professionals to address the unique trauma and well-being needs of this vulnerable population.

The SIJS is highly sought after for migrant children because it is specifically designed for those who cannot return to their home country due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. However, the U.S. State Department has placed a temporary hold on issuing visas for children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador due to the high number of applicants. SIJS visas will be immediately available for children and youth from Mexico with the start of the new fiscal year (October 1, 2016).

Both briefs outline the process for securing an SIJS visa and defines terms, including special immigrant juvenile, unaccompanied child, lawful permanent residency, and title IV-E funding.

The brief for practitioners outlines the implications of the State Department's hold on SIJS visas, specifically the impact on children and youth involved with child welfare. Federal law prohibits immigration status from being a barrier to receiving services; however, permanent resident status is required in order to receive federally funded foster care or adoption subsidies. This brief also outlines recommendations for promoting the well-being and permanency of children and youth.

The brief for policymakers outlines options at the Federal and State level for supporting migrant children and youth. For instance, the brief suggests Federal policymakers advocate for alternative options such as deferred action, Parole in Place, and Temporary Protected Status, all of which are available to children and youth with approved SIJS petitions and who are awaiting visa availability.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence: Guidance for Policymakers to Protect Children and Youth From Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in the Absence of Visa Availability is available at http://www.cssp.org/policy/other-resources/SIJS-Fed-States.pdf (1.17 MB).

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence: Guidance for Practitioners to Protect Children and Youth From Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in the Absence of Visa Availability is available at http://www.cssp.org/policy/other-resources/SIJS-Fed-Practitioners.pdf (2 MB).
 

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