Change to Regulations Regarding SIJS Applicants Getting Married

Previously if a SIJS applicant who had an approved I-360 had to remain unmarried until their priority date became current and they completed the adjustment of status process to obtain legal permanent resident status or their I-360 would be automatically revoked per 8 CFR §205.1(a)(3)(iv). A change to the regulations—at 8 CFR § 204.11(b)(2)—now requires that a SIJS applicant remain unmarried only until their I-360 petition is approved.

Changes to the USCIS Policy Manual

A USCIS policy alert dated June 10, 2022, further explains this change of policy. See Policy Alert, Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification and Adjustment of Status, June 10, 2022, PA-2022-14. The USCIS Policy Manual was amended at Volume 6, Part J, Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements revising the definitions of “juvenile court” and “custody,” clarifying the evidentiary requirements under Subsection 2 (Parental Reunification) and Subsection 3 (Best Interests), and revises guidance on the validity of juvenile court orders in Subsection 4 (Validity of Order).

USCIS Policy Manual at Chapter 2, Section A, General Eligibility Requirement for SIJS Classification now lists:

1. Physically present in the United States at the time of filing and adjudication of the Petition;
2. Unmarried at the time of filing and adjudication of Form I-360;
3. Under the age of 21 at the time of filing Form I-360;
4. Subject to juvenile court determination issued in the US meeting the requirements;
5. Obtain US Department of Homeland Security consent; and
6. Obtain US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) consent (if applicable).

The USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section B, Age-Out Protections for Filing with USCIS, the USCIS Policy Manual States:

If a petitioner was under 21 years of age on the date of the proper filing of the Form I-360, and all other eligibility requirements under the statute are met, USCIS cannot deny SIJ classification solely because the petitioner is older than 21 years of age at the time of adjudication.

Section 235(d)(6) of the TVPRA 2008, Pub. L. 110-457 (PDF), 122 Stat. 5044, 5080 (December 23, 2008), provides age-out protection to SIJ petitioners.

Long Wait After I-360 Approval Until Adjustment of Status

This had been becoming more of an issue lately because of the long wait from I-360 approval until SIJS applicants would be able to adjust status to get legal permanent resident status.

Due to the large number of SIJS applications, for the last 5-6 years, there has been a backlog for children from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. As of April 2021, there are 44,000 SIJS beneficiaries remaining in the backlog. SIJS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have waited an average of 4 years before their priority date is current to apply for adjustment of status.

SIJS visas are part of the employment-based fourth preference category. The fourth category receives only 7.1% of the 140,000 visas generally available per year. SIJS beneficiaries are also subject to annual country caps applicable to employment-based immigration: 7% per-country limit. There is an overwhelming number of SIJS beneficiaries who are also in removal proceedings: 92% of Honduran SIJS adjustment applicants, 90% of Guatemalan applicants, and 84% of Salvadoran applicants.

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