DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 13: Cross Program Protocols
13-20.2  Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Cross Program Protocols
13-20.2  Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Reference Points
Overview
Who Is Eligible for Special Immigration Status
Timeliness of Application
Preparation for Referring a Child for SIJS
SIJS referral Procedures
Financial Assistance
Contacts
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 07/01/06
Last Updated: 2/13/12
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Special Immigration Juvenile Status
Popup Window United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
PDF U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Memorandum:  Field Guidance on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Petitions
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Order Regarding Minor's Eligibility for Special Immigration Juvenile Status
MS Word Notice of Ex Parte Application (SCZ 170)
MS Word Attachment to Notice (SCZ170a)
PDF USCIS form -Biographic Information (G-325)
MS Word USCIS Form - Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485), page 3.
MS Word DFCS Special Funds Request/ Miscellaneous /Other Purchases (SCZ414Z)
MS Word DFCS Special Funds Request / Immigration Expenses (SCZ 414Z)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet

Court Management Section: Ex Parte Application and Order

  MS Word Sample: Petitioning for Minor's Eligibility for SIJS



Overview  

Changes in the Immigration Act of 1990 made children who are dependents of the juvenile court who have been adjudicated into a permanency planning modality eligible to legalize their immigrant status.  Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) is one of many forms of immigration relief.  Social workers working with families with immigration problems should refer those families to knowledgeable agencies for an assessment of their immigration status and/or options.  Catholic Charities Immigration Counseling Center is the designated principal agency to refer clients of the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) to resolve immigration problems.  However, in some instances, other private attorneys or agencies may also be used to process cases.

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Who is Eligible for Special Immigration Juvenile Status  

Special immigrant status is a grant of lawful permanent resident status.  Children who are eligible for Special Immigration Juvenile Status include those who come under all of the following four requirements:

  • Have undocumented legal status.
  • Are dependents of the juvenile court
  • Are deemed eligible to receive Permanency Planning services through the Department of Family and Children's Services  due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
  • The Court has declared that it is not in their best interest to be returned to their country of origin.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status can be granted for children up to age 21, as long as they remain dependents of the court, whether they are in paid or non-paid placement as long as the social worker files an application for SIJS on behalf of the dependent youth prior to the age of 18. 

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Timeliness of Application  

Current regulations require that an applicant for SIJS adjustment must be under 21 years old, not only at the time of application, but also at the time of adjustment.  It may take 6 to 18 months for an interview to be scheduled, after the application is submitted.  Failure to adjust prior to age 21 results in denial of the application, regardless of the merits of the underlying dependency order; this is known as “aging out.”   Social workers are strongly encouraged to submit petitions and applications in a timely fashion and to notify the Department administration when the risk of aging out is strong.

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Preparation for Referring a Client for SIJS  

In preparation for referring a child or family to the Immigration Counseling Center of Catholic Charities or an immigration attorney, the social worker:

  • Inquires about birth certificates.
  • Identifies any immigration documents the minor or family possesses.
  • Schedules a pre-referral screening with Miday Tovar, Social Work Supervisor (tel: 975-5625).
  • Answers the following questions:
    • Who in the family is a U.S. citizen, legal resident or other known immigrant status?
    • What types of immigration documents does the family possess?
    • Do family members have passports?  From what country?
    • What family member needs help with an immigration problem?
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SIJS Referral Procedures  

If a child is eligible for SIJS, the social worker:

  • Contacts the Immigration Counseling Office at Catholic Charities or the immigration counselor of record to advise that office that the worker will be assisting the child in applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
    • The immigration counselor from Catholic Charities:
      • Sends USCIS forms for completion by the social worker and child or the social worker can print out the forms (See non-CWS/CMS Forms in Reference Points Section at the top of this OPP chapter).
      • Advises the worker of the current USCIS fees for processing each form that will be needed.

  • Prepares an an Application and Order which includes the following information:
    • That the child has been "deemed eligible for long-term foster care."
      • Federal regulation defines "deemed eligible for long term foster care" to mean that the court finds that family reunification is not a viable option and the child will go on to long-term foster care, guardianship or adoption.
    • The quality of the child's relationship to his/her parents.
    • The immigration status of the parents.
    • The evidence of abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child.
    • The reason why it would not be in the best interest of the juvenile to be returned to his/her parents' country of nationality or last habitual residence.
    • The recommendation that the order regarding the child's eligibility for special immigration status be signed as attached.

             

  •  Attaches to the Application and Order the:
    • Order Regarding Minor's Eligibility for Special Immigrant Status
    • Declaration re: Notice of Ex Parte Application (SCZ170)
    • Attachment to Notice (SCZ 170a)
     
  • Submits the above documents to the Court.
  • Completes with the child:
    • USCIS form - Biographic Information (G-325)
    • USCIS Form - Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485), page 3.
  • Gathers the following information, after the Special Petition Order is signed by the Court:
    • Signed Court Order
    • Child's original birth certificate
    • Original passport, if available
    • USCIS form - Biographic Information (G-325)
    • USCIS Form - Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485), page 3.
    • Checks for filing and processing fees.
  • Makes an appointment with Immigration Counseling Center or counselor of record to meet with worker and child.
    • Allow 3 hours for the meeting to complete the necessary paperwork.



The immigration counselor of record:

  • Reviews the packet of forms.
  • Takes the child's picture as part of the application.
  • Requests appointments for fingerprinting for the child, if the child is 14 years or older.
    • Fingerprinting must be done at a government center. 
  • Requests an appointment for interview with the USCIS.
    • The interview is generally scheduled within 6-8 months.


The social worker:

  • Accompanies the child to fingerprinting center when notified of the appointment.
    • the child must have a picture ID or passporty from his or her country of origin.  A school ID does not suffice.



The social worker and immigration counselor:

  • Accompany the child to the interview with USCIS.
    • The worker must take:
      • A current court order and/or court document verifying that child continues as a dependent of the juvenile court
      • The jurisdiction/disposition court report
      • The most recent court report
        • All three above documents must have an embossed seal
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Financial Assistance  

DFCS assists the child in paying for the application costs through the DFCS Special Funds.  The immigration counselor at Catholic Charities can give information as to the current fees.  Costs will include:

  • Filing fees (to process the packet an USCIS representation)
  • Fee for the Adjustment of Status (I-485)
  • Fee for the Special Immigrant Petition (I-360)
  • Work Authorization/Identity Card (I-765)
  • Fingerprints (for child 14 years and older)
  • Physicals not covered by Medi-Cal
  • Catholic Charities processing fees


To process the payment, the social worker:

  • Submits DFCS Special Funds Request / Immigration Expenses (SCZ414Z), which will cover all applicable processing fees for both Catholic Charities and U.S.C.I.S.
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Contacts  
  • Miday Tovar, DFCS Social Work Supervisor

Tel: (408) 975-5625

tovarm@ssa.sccgov.org

  • Mirna Lau, SWIII

(408) 975-5451

Mirna.Lau@SSA.sccgov.org

  • Alma Duarte, SW III

Tel: 975-5538

Alma.Duarte@ssa.sccgov.org

  • Immigration Counseling Center

Catholic Charities

    Attention: Hoa Nguyen

    2625 Zanker Road, Ste. 201

    San Jose, CA  95134

    Tel: (408) 325-5170

    Fax: (408) 944-0347

    hoa@ccsj.org

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Other References  
bullet

OPP Chapter 8-6: Ex Parte Application and Order

bullet OPP Chapter 13-20: Immigration Issues in the Child Welfare System
Popup Window Designated Civil Surgeons and Medical Facilities Locator
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