Remedies for Immigrant Children and Youth

Immigrant children who are county dependents because they are victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment are among the most vulnerable people in the United States. But in many cases, the children or their advocates can obtain a critical legal benefit that will help the children gain control in their lives and successfully transition to adulthood. The ILRC has advocated for the rights of abused immigrant children in county care since 1990.


Confidentiality of Juvenile Records in California: Guidance for Immigration Practitioners in Light of California’s New Confidentiality Law

California has strict confidentiality laws that govern when and to whom records from dependency and delinquency proceedings may be released. Immigration advocates need to be aware of these laws and ensure they are complied with when representing individuals with California juvenile records. This guide provides an overview of the law and practical guidance for how to handle issues of juvenile confidentiality before USCIS and the immigration courts.

Frequently Asked Questions in 1-Parent Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Cases in California Family Courts

In this practice advisory developed in consultation with the staff of the Judicial Council of California, we answer common questions about basic procedural and substantive issues that may arise in family court custody cases when SIJS findings are being requested.

Responding to the Needs of Unaccompanied Children

After a record number of unaccompanied children came to the United States in 2014, the U.S. is again responding to a new influx of children and families from Central America. This one-page resource sheet for individuals interacting with unaccompanied children in the U.S. can be used to help children get connected with legal, educational, medical, mental health, and faith-based services.

New California Laws Protecting & Providing Humanitarian Relief for Immigrant Youth

California recently enacted ten new laws to ensure liberty and access to justice for immigrants in our state. Two of those laws impact immigrant youth in particular:

AB 899 is a new law that clarifies that California law does not permit the automatic sharing of confidential information from juvenile court proceedings with any federal official, including immigration officials. Specifically, it makes clear that it is unlawful for local and state entities to share information with immigration officials, unless immigration officials file a petition in court requesting disclosure of the minor’s information and the court determines that sharing the information is appropriate, taking into account the best interests of the minor. The law took effect January 1, 2016.

AB 900 is a new California law that will provide better support and protection for unaccompanied, undocumented youth between the ages of 18 and 20 in California by: 1) giving probate courts jurisdiction to appoint legal guardians for youth ages 18-20 in order to assist youth in adjusting to a new culture and social structure, and 2) aligning state law with federal law to allow these youth to access Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. The law took effect on January 1, 2016.

Recommendations for SIJS State Court Predicate Orders in California

In light of increased scrutiny of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) state court predicate orders by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, advocates are advised to include a brief summary of the factual basis supporting the eligibility findings for SIJS within the state court predicate order. This guide includes recommendations for what information to include in state court predicate orders originating out of family court custody cases, probate/guardianship cases, and dependency and delinquency cases in California, including sample language.

California Appellate Law on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

In recent years, California’s appellate courts have provided helpful guidance on the state court’s role in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases. This fact sheet briefly summarizes California’s published decisions, which clarify many of the common questions that these cases present in state courts, including one-parent SIJS, SIJS in delinquency proceedings, and the proper role of the state court in the SIJS process.

Responding to Inappropriate RFEs & NOIDs in SIJS Cases

This practice advisory describes the recent increase in RFEs and NOIDs in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases, in which USCIS is requesting documents from the underlying state court proceedings. The advisory details arguments against disclosing state court documents and information to USCIS, and provides guidance on setting up your SIJS petitions for success from the outset.

Living in the United States: A Guide for Immigrant Youth

This guide is a compilation of resources for immigrant youth living in the United States.  It includes general descriptions of immigration relief as well as general advice on applying for benefits, driver’s licenses, financial aid for colleges, bank accounts and credit cards, filing taxes, registering for the national service and military service, and more.

An Overview to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status - Updated March 2015

An Overview to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, excerpted from ILRC’s new publication Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children & Youth. (Excerpted from Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children & Youth.)

Reference Sheet on the Immigration Consequences of Delinquency - Updated Feb 2015

A reference sheet on the immigration consequences of delinquency and diagnostic questions for noncitizen youth: determining potential avenues for legal status.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) Primer: How to Seek SIJS Findings in California Superior Courts

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is a unique, hybrid form of immigration relief that requires the involvement of state courts before a child is eligible to apply for a special immigrant juvenile visa with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. This guide includes an overview of the process of requesting SIJS findings in different types of state courts in California, providing answers to common questions about this process as well as practice pointers for different types of proceedings in California.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Role-play: Responding to Common Questions in State Court Proceedings

Advocates may find that some state court judges are unfamiliar with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), or uncomfortable with their role in helping an individual access a form of federal immigration relief. This resource is intended to help advocates address the concerns of state courts with respect to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: A Primer for One-Parent Cases

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases, involving a claim of abuse, abandonment or neglect against one parent while the child resides with the non-offending parent, are commonly referred to as one-parent cases. These cases, though permissible under the plain language of the statute as well as federal agency interpretation, have proved challenging particularly at the state court phase of the application process and at times before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that adjudicates SIJS petitions. This advisory is intended to be a primer for practitioners to help them successfully advocate for SIJS where one-parent SIJS claims are involved.

SB 873: How California’s New Law Benefits Unaccompanied Minors

SB 873 appropriates $3M to provide legal representation for Unaccompanied Minors in removal proceedings. The law also eliminates any ambiguity that California Superior Courts, including family courts, have jurisdiction to make the findings necessary for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”). This fact sheet outlines how the law benefits Unaccompanied Minors, including practice tips for how advocates can leverage the law to improve practice in state court for SIJS petitions.

Map: Deportation System for Minors

Visual map of what may happen to immigrant children in the immigration system including apprehension, detention, immigration court, and deportation.

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Resources

This chart is a compilation of resources for advocates working with Unaccompanied Immigrant Children (“UAC”) and includes general resources for working with and representing the UAC population, immigration options for UACS, laws affecting UACs, overview of the immigration detention and deportation process for immigrant children, and legal know your rights for children.

The Reuniting Immigrant Families Act (SB 1064)

On September 30, 2012, the state of California enacted the Reuniting Immigrant Families Act (“SB 1064”).  SB 1064 is the nation’s first law addressing the reunification barriers faced by many immigrant families involved with the child welfare system. The law clarifies that maintaining children’s ties to their families remains the priority despite barriers imposed by immigration status, including immigration detention and deportation.

The ILRC in partnership with the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law are providing technical assistance, training, and written resources to stakeholders working in the child welfare system to ensure successful implementation of SB 1064 through the state of California.

Applying the ICE Parental Interests Directive to Child Welfare Cases

In 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a Parental Interests Directive to provide federal guidelines regarding immigration enforcement against parents and legal guardians. The Directive emphasizes that ICE should respect an immigrant parent’s rights and responsibilities, and seeks to ensure that “immigration enforcement activities do not unnecessarily disrupt” parental rights.  This resource summarizes the key provisions of the Directive and provides tips to those working within the dependency system on how to best ensure an immigrant parent can meaningfully participate in the dependency proceedings.

Immigration Options for Undocumented Immigrant Children

A collection of resources and fact sheets on SIJS, VAWA, U visa, T visa, Asylum, Family visas, TPS and DACA.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

Highlighting Changes Implemented by the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act (03/2009): These are materials from our March 2009 webinar which highlighted important new changes implemented by the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 (signed into law on December 23, 2008) to the eligibility requirements for filing a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) petition. Expert practitioners provided strategies to overcome challenges posed in obtaining SIJS, including obtaining juvenile court orders from dependency, delinquency, and probate courts and obtaining specific consent to apply for SIJS while a child is in federal custody. If you are interested in participating in this webinar if held in the future please email

Immigration Benchbook for Juvenile and Family Courts

Immigration Benchbook for Juvenile and Family Courts, Updated July 2010 (PDF, 2010) This is a national benchbook for juvenile and family court judges on various immigration related issues including: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, adoption, VAWA, U Visas, divorce, child custody, immigration consequences of delinquency and crime, and immigration enforcement.