Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – How to Obtain a Predicate Order in State Court


Credit: 1.25 hour

Presentation Date: October 14, 2022



Join Rebekah Rashidfarokhi, Director of Guardianship and Immigration Programs for Children, to learn about how to obtain a predicate order in state court to provide an undocumented child with a path to citizenship in the United States. Volunteers represent a petitioner in an uncontested guardianship or custody case in Cook and collar counties.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) was created by Congress to enable undocumented immigrant children who  have  suffered  abuse,  neglect,  and/or  abandonment to  acquire  lawful  permanent  residence  in  the  United States  when  returning  to  their  home  country would  not  be  in  their  best  interests.  SIJS  cases  are  a  great opportunity for volunteer attorneys who are interested in ensuring safety for immigrant children. SIJS is a three-step process:

  1. Obtain a predicate order in state court. A state “juvenile court” finds the child was abused, neglected, and/or abandoned and it is not in her best interest to return to her home country;
  2. Petition for SIJS status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). With the state court finding, the child applies for SIJS before USCIS;
  3. Apply for permanent residency. Once granted SIJS status the child can petition for legal permanent residency. For SIJS, a “juvenile court” is broadly defined as any court located in the United States with jurisdiction to make judicial determinations about the custody and care of juveniles. This can include child custody, guardianship, among others. Obtaining a predicate order does not guarantee that a child’s petition for SIJS will be granted. SIJS only confers status to the child and does not extend benefits to any family members. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

This volunteer opportunity is for Step #1! CVLS seeks pro bono attorneys to represent clients in state court to obtain the predicate order. Normally CVLS, the NIJC, or another partner agency will handle steps 2 and 3 unless a volunteer requests the opportunity to handle those matters as well.

Pro bono attorneys are expected to:

  • Work with clients in vulnerable situations
  • Represent clients in state court
  • Provide interpretation services, as necessary
  • In Illinois, pro bono attorneys also have the option to join a statewide network of practitioners working on these unique cases.

CVLS & the NIJC Provide:

  • Trainings conducted by topic experts
  • Policy and practice updates regarding any changes within the immigration system that may impact clients
  • Detailed practice manuals, practice advisories, and samples
  • Technical support through the life of the case

SIJS predicate order cases may be completed in as little as three to six months. This process must be complete before the child ages out of the juvenile court jurisdiction.

This seminar will be held remotely via Zoom. Attendees will receive login instructions upon registration.


If you have any questions about the content of this seminar, you may contact Rebekah Rashidfarokhi at rebekah@cvls.org.

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