USCIS to Offer Deferred Action–and Access to Work Permits–for Special Immigrant Juveniles Waiting Often Years for Lawful Permanent Resident Status

What is deferred action?

Deferred action is a USCIS designation that grants temporary protection from deportation and enables an applicant to apply for work authorization. Deferred action does not provide permanent residence and has an expiration date that is generally renewable. 

What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)?

SIJS is a visa classification available to immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. Only young people who fit this description, are unmarried and are already living in the United States qualify for this classification. SIJS is not the same as lawful permanent residency but is a foundation to apply for a green card. 

Why did USCIS make this change?

USCIS has a backlog in applications for permanent residence, meaning many young people with SIJ status who qualify for green cards are trapped in a limbo, unable to work. Granting deferred action to these young people will make it possible for them to legally support themselves and their families while they await adjustment of status. 

This will positively impact many SIJS applicants. And USCIS states it will also benefit the U.S. overall, as the country is dealing with a labor shortage and in need of workers to fill critical jobs across industries. 

What should I do?

USCIS will automatically consider granting deferred action to SIJ visa holders, meaning they have an approved I-360 Petition. Since the process is automatic, a separate request for deferred action is not required. 

However, if you or someone you know might be impacted by this change, or may have questions about qualifying for SIJ status, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney today. An attorney can determine if this change applies to you and, if it does, help you take any next steps, like filing Form 1-765, and Application for Employment Authorization when the time comes.

In the meantime, please ensure your address is updated with USCIS, as any notice of deferred action will be delivered through the mail. 

Read USCIS’s announcement of this change