January 9, 2017
Kelley Drye successfully represented an unaccompanied child, who immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, at a hearing in Family Court. The hearing was the first of two judicial hurdles required to have the client obtain Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SIJS), an immigration classification available to certain undocumented immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents. SIJS is a way for unaccompanied minor immigrants to apply for and obtain legal permanent residence in the United States.
When the client was nine he witnessed his father’s murder at the hands of the client’s maternal uncle. The client subsequently fled his homeland when he, too, was threatened by his father’s killers. The Kelley Drye team convinced the Family Court that the client should be declared a dependent of the court and a guardian appointed. The team also convinced the court that reunification with one or both of the client’s parents is not a viable option due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law and that it is not in the best interests of the client to return to Guatemala.
Having received SIJS designation, the client may now apply to adjust his status to that of a lawful permanent resident, obtain work authorization, and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. The team will be representing the client though this portion of the process as well.