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I am currently writing a 20 week series prepping clients who are studying for the citizenship test.  Each week I will discuss five of the 100 potential test questions with the correct answer and a brief explanation.

We proudly serve immigrant clients from Virginia and North Carolina, including Surry, Stokes, Wilkes, Yadkin, Alleghany, Ashe, Forsyth, Rockingham, Guilford, Carroll, Grayson, Galax, Patrick, Pulaski, Wythe, Smyth, and Floyd Counties. We also serve criminal clients from Surry County, North Carolina.

Immigration Options for Minors

Holly Wilcox

Hello Friends!

This is my first post unrelated to my series on citizenship test prep.  If you're interested in reading that series, you can start with the first post by clicking here.  I'll get back to that on Monday, and will continue for the next 17 Mondays until I've gotten through all 100 potential test questions.

Today, though, I wanted to take a minute to blog about some options for immigrant children.  Children are treated uniquely under US immigration laws, because they are considered a more vulnerable population that require more protection than adults.  There are several benefits that have been created specifically for immigrant children, such as SIJS, and immigrants who came to the United States as children, such as DACA.  The following is a short list of some options immigrant children may have, and what benefits they may be eligible for.


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

What is it? 

DACA is a form of protection created by President Obama to provide certain undocumented youth with relief from removal (deportation) for two years.  This benefit may be renewed every two years, provided the recipient meets certain conditions. 

Who is eligible?

An undocumented person who is physically present in the United States, who is at least 15 years old, and who was under age 31 as of June 15, 2012, may be eligible for DACA.  He or she must have come to the United States before his or her 16th birthday and must have continuously resided in the Untied States since June 15, 2007.  He or she must either be currently enrolled in school or have obtained a high school diploma or GED, and must not have any significant criminal convictions.

What are the benefits? 

This benefit protects the recipient from being placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.  In addition, it provides the recipient with a work permit and a Social Security number.  It also allows the recipient to apply for a state ID card or driver's license.  

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

What is it? 

The Violence Against Women Act allows family members of abusive US citizens or lawful permanent residents (people with a green card) to petition for permanent residency without the cooperation of the abuser.

Who is eligible?

An abused non-citizen child or spouse of a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder).  Additionally, the child of an abused spouse may qualify (i.e., if the child's mother or father was the victim of abuse, but the child himself was not abused, he may still be eligible.  The abuse need not be physical -- it can also be emotional or mental. 

What are the benefits? 

Children who receive this benefit are eligible for a work permit as well as lawful permanent residency (a green card), which can eventually lead to citizenship.  Permanent residency in the United States also allows children to be eligible for certain federal or state welfare benefits, such as Food Stamps and Medicaid.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

What is it?

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status provides lawful permanent residency (a green card) to children who have been designated by a state juvenile court as abandoned, abused, or neglected by one or both of their parents. 

Who is eligible?

child under 21 who has been legally placed in the custody of either the state (usually the Department of Social Services) or an individual.  The court must have found that the child cannot  be reunited with one or both parents because of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.  The Court must also have found that it would not be in the best interest of the child to return to his or her home country.

What are the benefits? 

Children with SIJ status receive work authorization as well as lawful permanent residency (a green card), which can eventually lead to citizenship.  Permanent residency in the United States also allows children to be eligible for certain federal or states welfare benefits, such as Food Stamps and Medicaid.

U-Visas & T-Visas

What is it? 

U- and T- Visas are temporary visas that allow the recipient to live in the US for 4 years.  After 3 years, the recipient can apply for lawful permanent residency (a green card).  

Who is eligible?

A person is eligible for a U-Visa if he or she suffered substantial physical or mental abuse resulting from his or her being the victim of a crime.  The person (or his or her parent or guardian) must be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the crime. 

A person is eligible for a T-Visa if he or she was the victim of a severe form of human trafficking. 

What are the benefits? 

Recipients of a U- or T- Visa receive work authorization, and after 3 years, they may apply for a green card.  Additionally, family members of U- or T-Visa recipients may be eligible for a derivative visa.  

This list is not exhaustive.  Children may be eligible for other benefits, as well.  For example, children may apply for asylum on their own.  The four benefits described above are only some of the options an immigration attorney may advise for immigrant children.  In order to fully understand what benefits you or someone you know may be eligible for, schedule a consultation today