Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a pathway to US citizenship for eligible immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents. SIJS cases involve two parts: (1) a state court custody or guardianship case that places the child in the legal care of a parent or guardian, followed by (2) an immigration application for SIJS. For these cases, CVLS and the NIJC seek volunteers willing to represent the parents or guardians in uncontested custody and guardianship cases in Cook, Lake, Kane and Will Counties. Once the state court “predicate order” is obtained, the NIJC will take over the case for the immigration application.

Important Notes:

  • These are family law cases, but all matters are uncontested!
  • Cases have been pre-screened by the NIJC for eligibility and merit.
  • Full supervision is provided in each case from beginning to end by the NIJC and CVLS.
  • Interpreters can be arranged when needed. Spanish speakers encouraged to participate!
  • Cases can be prepared remotely and ready to file when courts re-open.
  • Once the courts open, most cases will close in 1-2 court dates.

Presenters

Hillary Richardson, Supervising Attorney, National Immigrant Justice Center

Hillary Richardson is a supervising attorney with NIJC’s Asylum Project, focusing her work on unaccompanied immigrant children and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Prior to joining NIJC, Hillary worked in family law at the Legal Assistance Foundation’s Children and Families Practice Group, and served as a staff attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Tacoma, Washington, where she provided legal orientation and removal defense for detained adults. Before attending law school, she worked as a paralegal and BIA accredited representative with NIJC’s Adult Detention project. Hillary holds a B.A. from Earlham College and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Rebekah Rashidfarokhi, Director—Guardian ad Litem Program for Minors, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services

Since joining CVLS in 2007, Rebekah Rashidfarokhi has handled cases in the areas of family law, guardianship of adults and minors, immigration, and foreclosure. She has served as Director of the Guardian ad Litem for Minors Program since 2011, and is responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising more than 200 pro bono attorneys every year. She also serves as a liaison between the Probate Court and DCFS. During law school, Rebekah worked at an immigration clinic at the US-Mexico border and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Colombia. She is fluent in Spanish and works closely with the National Immigrant Justice Center, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and a variety of social service providers to provide guardianship and immigration legal services to Chicago communities.

Rob Zielinski, Staff Attorney--Child Rep Program, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services

Rob first worked for CVLS in the Access to Justice Program in 2014 while finishing his third year of law school at the University of Chicago. During his time at Penn, Rob was a member of multiple pro bono organizations, including the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Housing Rights Project, and the Animal Law Project. As a law student, he represented adolescent clients in Philadelphia Family Court as part of Penn’s Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic. Rob was awarded a Penn Law Fellowship in September 2015 to return to CVLS as a staff attorney in the Child Rep program. Outside of work, Rob spends most of his time planning road trips and playing with his adorable dog, Vince.

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