WHO IS AN UNACCOMPANIED MINOR?
When someone younger than 18 years old enters the U.S. without a parent or legal guardian, that person is considered an unaccompanied minor in immigration court. Unlike with the criminal court system, you are not guaranteed representation by an attorney in immigration court. Even for a very young child, an attorney will not be appointed to represent them, even if they are unable to access a lawyer on their own. For unaccompanied minors, the most relevant paths are Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and Asylum.
HELP WITH ASYLUM APPLICATIONS
From the first step in the asylum process, it is smart to work with an experienced immigration attorney. Once the initial asylum application is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency may deny or grant the application, depending on your situation.
If USCIS denies your asylum application, you can argue your case before a judge. Asylum cases can be exceedingly difficult to argue successfully, however, especially without an immigration attorney.
As an example, the fact an applicant may live in a place that is unsafe because of widespread violence may not be enough for an immigration judge to grant asylum. Asylum seekers must know in specific detail what circumstances are relevant to the judge, and an experienced immigration attorney can help.
WHAT IS SPECIAL IMMIGRANT JUVENILE STATUS (SIJS)?
If you are younger than 21 years old, and you have been neglected or abused, you may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS is a classification for undocumented immigrants who cannot be returned to their home country without being subjected to additional harm.
When a child obtains Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, the relationship between the child and their parents is severed for the purposes of immigration. Finally, minors who are granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status are often able to secure permanent residence in the United States.
SHOULD AN UNACCOMPANIED MINOR HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
Immigration proceedings can be scary and difficult to understand for an adult, and children are even less equipped to navigate the system. If you or someone you know is under the age of 21, and might benefit from Asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, an immigration attorney can have a huge impact on how well your case is presented to the immigration judge.
Immigrants who represent themselves in Asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status proceedings are far less likely to have their applications granted than those who hire an immigration attorney.
Take control of your situation today by calling Novo Legal.