California Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Lawyer

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – Castro Law Offices Can Help

Undocumented minors who are being abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents do not have to resign themselves to years of pain and suffering. They may be able to seek refuge by applying for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” (SIJS). If an undocumented minor secures Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, they may qualify for a green card that would allow them to stay in the United States as lawful permanent resident. 

The Special Immigrant Juvenile attorneys with Castro Law Offices are ready and able to assist undocumented minors during this difficult and emotionally-challenging situation. An SIJS lawyer in California affiliated with our law firm possesses a keen understanding of how to approach these challenging cases. We take pride in working closely with all relevant parties to prepare the necessary court filings and related paperwork to try and ensure a smooth (considering the circumstances) process. A California family lawyer with our firm will also manage and coordinate all communications with representatives from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the SJIS application review process.

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Our Expertise in Family Law and SIJS

Jeremy Castro possesses a unique understanding of the significance and sensitivity associated with securing Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Before launching Castro Law Offices, Jeremy worked at the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland and gained valuable experience working under Roberta Laub-Rode with Amigos Immigration in San Rafael. While working at Amigos Immigration, Jeremy provided legal counsel and assistance to multiple clients preparing for SIJS California proceedings in counties and jurisdictions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Understanding SIJS Eligibility

To be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a California family court will need to make a formal determination that the undocumented minor was abandoned, neglected, or abused by one or both of their parents. Once that determination is made, the family court will need to determine that reunification with the undocumented minor’s parent, or parents, should not occur since it would not be in the undocumented minor’s best interest.

Another critically-important criterion for determining SIJS eligibility is the age of the undocumented minor. Even in situations where the other SIJS qualifications are met, it is only possible to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status when someone is considered to be a legal minor. For example, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) set the maximum age to pursue SJIS at age 21. However, it is important to note that some states only allow SJIS applications to proceed when an applicant is under the age of 18.

In addition to being a minor, a viable SJIS applicant must be unmarried and currently live in the United States.

Guardianship and Custody Proceedings

In SIJS proceedings, the issue of guardianship and/or custody of the undocumented minor needs to be addressed. When it comes to SIJS and guardianship, if an undocumented minor already has an available caretaker (other than a parent), then that caretaker may have grounds to be appointed guardian or custodian of the undocumented minor. This may also be an option for undocumented minors released to the care of a sponsor from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to guardianship, adoption by a non-parent caretaker is a possibility in the context of SIJS proceedings. Similar to guardianship, SIJS adoption may occur when a family court is able to place the child in the custody of an individual (i.e., the prospective adoptive parent) and therefore be able to issue an SIJS predicate order if it is not in the best interest of the undocumented minor to pursue parental reunification.

Things To Keep In Mind For

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Addressing Abuse, Neglect, or Abandonment

One of the most difficult and heart-wrenching aspects of SJIS cases is the unfortunate reality that eligible undocumented minors have been subjected to mental and/or physical abuse, neglect, and even abandonment by a parent or both parents. Properly representing undocumented minors in these types of cases requires an unparalleled level of compassion and support. The level of care and attention provided to SJIS clients is a point of pride for Castro Law Offices. We respect the inherent sensitives associated with these challenging cases and work tirelessly to obtain a positive outcome for our clients.

Best Interest Determinations

When a family court is assessing the best interests of an undocumented minor during SIJS proceedings, judges typically use two guiding principles to make the determination: (i) the safety, health, and welfare of the undocumented minor and (ii) whether there is a cognizable benefit to the undocumented minor in being reunified with their parent, or parents.

As a result of these determinations, the court must then make the minor a court dependent or place them in the custody of a non-parental party. Non-parental parties include state agencies, court-approved guardians, and other family members.

Obtaining a Qualifying Court Order

To Obtain SIJS, A Family Court In California Will Need To Initially Issue An Order Finding The Following:

The undocumented minor is dependent on the court or is placed in the custody of an agency or individual by the court

The undocumented minor should not be reunited with a parent due to evidence of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment

It is not in the best interest of the undocumented minor to be returned to their home country to be reunified with their parents due to the aforementioned evidence of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment.

Once a qualifying court order is entered, the undocumented minor’s legal counsel will need to file a petition using Form I-360 with the USCIS. Below are the eligibility requirements:

The applicant is younger than 21 years of age on the date of filing;

The qualifying court order is in effect;

The applicant is not married; and

The applicant resides in the United States at the time the application is filed

Frequently Asked Questions For

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

  • What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?

    Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a classification that allows undocumented minors who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents to seek legal residency in the United States.

  • How can SIJS benefit an undocumented minor?

    If an undocumented minor is granted SIJS, they may qualify for a green card, allowing them to stay in the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

  • What is considered a “special immigrant”?

    A “special immigrant” refers to certain categories of immigrants, including minors who qualify for SIJS due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment by their parents.

  • Who is eligible to apply for SIJS?

    To be eligible for SIJS, the undocumented minor must be under 21 years of age, unmarried, currently living in the United States, and must have a court order indicating they were abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent.

  • How long does the SIJS process take?

    The timeline for the SIJS process can vary, but it generally takes several months to a year to complete all the necessary steps, including obtaining a court order and approval from USCIS.

  • What steps are involved in applying for SIJS?

    The SIJS application process involves obtaining a qualifying court order, filing Form I-360 with USCIS, and, if approved, applying for a green card.

  • What role does a family court play in SIJS cases?

    A family court must make a formal determination that the minor was abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent and that it is not in the minor’s best interest to reunite with their parent(s).

  • Can a minor apply for SIJS if they are over 18 but under 21?

    Yes, minors between 18 and 21 years old can apply for SIJS, but the maximum age limit varies by state, with some states only allowing applications from those under 18.

  • Can a minor apply for SIJS if they are married?

    No, to be eligible for SIJS, the applicant must be unmarried at the time of application.

  • What is a qualifying court order for SIJS?

    A qualifying court order for SIJS includes findings that the minor is dependent on the court or placed in the custody of an agency or individual, and that reunification with a parent is not in the minor’s best interest due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

  • What happens if a minor ages out of SIJS eligibility before their application is processed?

    If a minor ages out of SIJS eligibility (turns 21) before their application is processed, they may no longer qualify. It is crucial to file the application as early as possible.

  • Can a minor with SIJS be adopted by a non-parent caretaker?

    Yes, in some cases, adoption by a non-parent caretaker can occur as part of SIJS proceedings if it is in the best interest of the minor.

  • What should I do if I have more questions about SIJS?

    If you have more questions or need advice about the SIJS process in California, contact Castro Law Offices, P.C. Our SIJS lawyers are ready to assist you during this challenging time. Schedule a confidential case review today.


Jeremy Castro helped me with an adoption after my daughter’s dad passed away. My husband has been a step dad to her for 8 years and wanted to adopt her. Even though there is no way he can completely fill the role of her deceased father, he wanted to fully be there for her and offer comfort and emotional support for her. Jeremy and his wife Danielle were there every step of the way for us! I’m so grateful they were there to help with all of our questions and guide us though this process. Jermey’s passion for helping bring families together was so delightful.
This review is about my experience with Jeremy and team at Castro Law. After calling around numerous times to different firms, going to the law library, and reaching out to dads rights advocates. I still didn’t get much help. I made the best choice of my life by calling Castro Law. If you’re reading this I recommend at least giving them a call because they mean business. I finally feel at peace , they went above and beyond for me. The team is great at communicating, very knowledgeable, helpful, and are professional. In my experience mothers are the one favored in the courts, and get the better outcome. Jeremy and team were in my corner the whole time and proved that dads have rights too! Im with this team until my kids are 18 , thanks again Castro Law
I highly recommend Jeremy Castro and his associates to any future clients. They are legal professionals who: 1. Know and apply the law to your individual case to achieve the best possible outcome 2. Communicate in a fair and straightforward manner to all parties 3. Reduce the tension in an otherwise emotional setting and assist making objective decisions. They personally saw my case through to an amicable conclusion and their billing hours were appropriate. First class performance!
I wanted to take this time to write a review about my experience with Castro Law Offices. First off, they were not only FAST to my reply, but also very kind to my emotional situation. I was even handed some tissues for when I was crying. I was treated with the upmost respect (even though I'm sure I looked a little manic while in there explaining my case.) and kindness. They got my case close within a week, and also got me EVERYTHING I was asked for. I recommend Castro Law for ANYONE in need of lawyer assistance. Jeremy and his team work hard, day and night to make sure they meet all of their client's needs. If you're looking for immediate help and guidance with ANY attorney, Castro Law.
When things came to a point of contention with my children's father I knew I needed the help of an attorney. After weeks long search and hundreds of dollars in consultation fees with numerous other attorneys I finally found Jeremy! He is very knowledgeable regarding family law issues, authentic in his character and legal advice, as well as very reliable. As anyone in our shoes has been knows, the unknown can be very stressful. Jeremy made it a point to get back to me promptly when I contacted him...sometimes late into the night. He also was very transparent regarding communication with the other party. Would absolutely recommend Jeremy to anyone with with family law needs!
I was so happy I had decided to hire the Castro Law Office for my child custody and visitation case in Napa County. As a single father of three boys in the state of California, I felt as if I was already doomed thinking that the state would favor the mother regardless of my capability to care for our children. Jeremy was very empathetic and worked diligently to get myself in a good position for the hearing, as I hired him approximately a month prior to the court date. During the hearing, he was very stern and aggressive at the right moments. The situation I was in was extremely stressful and hiring the Castro Law Office helped put my mind at ease. He was very upfront and honest with me from the beginning and which is a trait I greatly appreciated. In the end, we were able to obtain an agreement that is best suited for the children and ourselves. I would hire them again for any other issues I might have in the future.

Have Questions About SIJS in California?

Schedule a Confidential Case Review with an Experienced Attorney Today

If you have questions or are looking for advice about the SIJS process in California, contact the Castro Law Offices, P.C. today. An SJIS lawyer in California is ready to help you during this difficult and challenging moment in your life. Our firm is based in Novato, California, but can provide effective legal services in Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and West Marin, and elsewhere in Marin County.