SIJS: Teenage Boy from El Salvador Wants to Stay in Virginia with His Aunt
David* is a 17-year-old boy from El Salvador who came to the United States to reunite with his maternal aunt in Alexandria City, Virginia. He lived in El Salvador with his mother, maternal aunt, and grandparents until his aunt left for the United States in 2004 and his mother left for the United States in 2016. Throughout David’s life, his father had never had a relationship with him or seemed interested in developing one. He also has not had a relationship with his mother since she migrated to the United States. Based on abandonment by his father and mother, he is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. David seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings. He turns 18 in November and will age out of Virginia state court jurisdiction at that time, so he needs an attorney to step up for him soon.
All CAIR Coalition matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by a CAIR Coalition attorney. Our mentoring program includes an opening meeting to discuss the scope and process of the matter, provision of samples, guidance on the law, review of draft filings, assistance with client contact, and guidance on preparation for interviews and hearings.
David is a 17-year-old boy from El Salvador who came to the United States and has reunited with his maternal aunt in Alexandria City, Virginia. He lived in El Salvador with his mother, maternal aunt and grandparents until his aunt left for the United States in 2004 and his mother migrated to the U.S. in 2016. He was forced to drop out of school in the 7th grade to avoid gang recruitment after which point he worked in his grandfather’s garden.
His aunt continued to support their family financially after she came to America, called their household everyday and remained involved in household decision-making.
Throughout David’s life, his father had never had a relationship with him or seemed interested in developing one. His father has lived in the United States since 1990 and met David’s mother in 2002 on a trip to El Salvador. He has sent money in the past but has never reached out to build a relationship with David. His father did not show interest in sponsoring him nor did he visit him while he was detained.
David’s mother lived with him, his maternal aunt, and his grandmother in El Salvador until she migrated to the United States in 2016. When she first came, she called him everyday and provided inconsistent financial support. Lately, she has become less frequent with her communications and support; David does not have a relationship with his mother now and cannot remember the last time they spoke.
David is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by his father and mother. SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest. SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents David will need to be barred in Virginia or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.
In order to assist David, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that he meets the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit an SIJS application package with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the child at a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interview, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge.
Currently, there are no hearings scheduled in David’s removal proceedings. It is imperative that he receive representation soon because he turns 18 in November, at which time he will age out of Virginia state custody court jurisdiction.
Timeline: Turns 18 in November. No scheduled immigration court hearings; State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally within 4 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months).
Location: Alexandria County, Virginia (non-detained, living with aunt)
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at email@example.com or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy