Question: I am applying for special immigrant juvenile status, but I also want to apply for my green card. Can I apply for special immigrant juvenile status and a green card at the same time? Or do I have to file one application before filing the other?
Answer: You must satisfy certain requirements before you can file for special immigrant juvenile status and adjustment of status at the same time:
- You must have a qualifying juvenile court order that shows all of the following:
- You are dependent on the court or placed under the custody of a state agency or individual appointed by the juvenile court;
- It is not in your best interest to be reunited with your parents due to abuse, neglect or abandonment; and
- It is not in your best interest to return to your country of birth.
- At the time of filing, you are physically present in the U.S.;
- You are under the age of 21 and unmarried at the time of filing and adjudication of Form I-360; and
- An immigrant visa is immediately available.
Once you have a juvenile court order and an immigrant visa is available, you may file Form I-360 and I-485 together.
How do I know if a visa is immediately available?
To determine if an immigrant visa is immediately available, you must review the Visa Bulletin and see what the priority date is under the employment-based fourth preference category (EB-4). If this category does not display “current,” you cannot file Forms I-360 and I-485 at the same time. You must file Form I-360 first to apply for special immigrant juvenile status.
After you file Form I-360, you will receive a receipt notice titled Form I-797C, Notice of Action. At the top of your Notice of Action, you will see your “priority date.” As soon as the date on the Visa Bulletin under the EB-4 category is the same as or earlier than your “priority date,” you can file Form I-485 and apply for a green card. If your priority date becomes “current” before USCIS approves your Form I-360, you can still file your Form I-485; you do not have to wait for USCIS to approve your Form I-360 before filing Form I-485.
If you are at least 14 years old, you will have to attend a biometrics appointment and USCIS interview. It is very important to seek assistance from an experienced immigration attorney before submitting these applications to ensure you are eligible.
I entered the U.S. illegally; do I need to obtain a waiver before filing Form I-485?
For many other types of immigration, if you entered the U.S. illegally (“without inspection”), you must first obtain an I-601A waiver before you can obtain a green card. However, this is not the case for SIJS applicants.
According to INA 245(a), anyone applying for adjustment of status under the special immigrant juvenile classification is considered to have been “paroled” into the United States even if they entered without inspection. This means that even if you entered the U.S. illegally, USCIS will treat you as having entered the U.S. lawfully.
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ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.