U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will consider granting deferred action to minors awaiting green cards through their Special Immigrant Juvenile Status but who can’t obtain a visa because of existing backlogs.
Deferred action status would shield those immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally. The move was among policy changes USCIS unveiled Monday to strengthen the SIJS program, which grants protection to immigrant children who crossed the border unlawfully and have been abused, abandoned or neglected.
“Due to ongoing visa number unavailability, the protection that Congress intended to afford SIJs through adjustment of status is often delayed for years, leaving this especially vulnerable population in limbo,” the USCIS memo said.
In a separate final rule released Monday, USCIS introduced a slew of policy changes to the SIJS program, including implementation of statutory changes made to the program in previous years.
The final rule updates current regulations to clarify SIJ eligibility criteria, including an age-out provision that protects petitioners who turn 21 while their application is pending. It also updates evidentiary requirements used to grant SIJ status to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.”