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Immigrant Youth

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is one of only a few technical assistance organizations nationally and in California with expertise on immigrant youth, including unaccompanied minor (UAC) issues. Undocumented immigrant children are an extremely vulnerable population, especially when they enter foster care, removal proceedings, and/or the juvenile justice system. The ILRC works to expand the rights of these immigrant children through policy and advocacy efforts, numerous in-person and webinar trainings, and case-specific assistance. We also write one of the only national publications addressing immigrant youth issues entitled, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children & Youth.

Many immigrant youth in the United States may be eligible to apply for lawful immigration status. One of the most common immigration options for immigrant youth is special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), which is a pathway to a green card for immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents. Other common forms of relief for children include U visas (for children who were victims of crimes), relief under the Violence Against Women Act (for children who were abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent or spouse), and asylum (for children who are afraid of returning to their home country).

Latest Resources

FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
01/09/2024
If you are hoping to attain lawful permanent resident status (getting a green card) or apply for an immigrant visa as a “child” and your 21st birthday is coming up, read this Community Alert to learn about how changes to USCIS’ interpretation of a law called the Child Status Protection Act might impact you.
Public Comments / Sign-on Letters
Resources
Publication Date
11/07/2023
ILRC led a sign-on effort to provide comment to USCIS on the proposed changes to Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The comment, submitted November 7, 2023, received over 120 signatures and requested that the agency revise the form for efficiency and to remove barriers to eligible applicants.
Public Comments / Sign-on Letters
Resources
Publication Date
11/07/2023
On November 7, 2023, the ILRC submitted this comment on USCIS’s proposed changes to Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The comment provides detailed suggestions for alterations to the proposed form as well as suggested language the agency should include. ILRC urged the agency to revise the form to reduce barriers to permanent residence for applicants and adjudicators and to focus on ensuring that the form is accessible for pro se applicants.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
10/16/2023
On May 11, 2023, the Biden administration issued a new regulation creating a bar to asylum for people arriving at the southern U.S. border with certain narrow exceptions. Although there is an ongoing court challenge, the bar, known as the “lawful pathways” rule, remains in effect. This Community Alert explores the exceptions to the bar with a focus on some of the exceptions that apply to children and youth traveling with their families.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
09/14/2023
This advisory provides basic information on how to obtain the SIJS predicate order in juvenile court. It describes the benefits, requirements, and deadlines associated with SIJS, and discusses the role of the juvenile defense or children’s attorney in the process. It includes a sample SIJS predicate order from juvenile justice proceedings.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
07/11/2023
This quick guide shares how to check your Selective Service registration status. For various applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), providing proof of registration with the Selective Service System is a vital part of qualifying for immigration relief. Learn more with this step-by-step guide.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
07/11/2023
The Central American Minors program allows qualifying children in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to enter the United States and live here lawfully if they have a parent or legal guardian in the United States with certain kinds of immigration status. This fact sheet provides information on basic eligibility and where to go for help.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
08/23/2023
Immigration law demonizes people whom it labels as “drug abusers and addicts,” “habitual drunkards,” and “alcoholics.” The implication is that they are morally weak, dangerous, or evil. An immigrant who comes within such a category can be found inadmissible and ineligible to establish good moral character, and can be denied several forms of immigration relief as well as naturalization. But from a scientific perspective, these people suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD), a medical condition that frequently arises after the person has undergone severe trauma. Substance Use Disorder is a growing health crisis that currently affects over 20 million people in the United States.

This Advisory is written by immigration attorneys and medical doctors specializing in SUD, to examine the issue from both perspectives. Part I of the advisory discusses the several immigration law penalties based on substance use (even when use has not risen to a disorder) and suggests legal defense strategies. Part II of the advisory reviews current medical information about the disorders and discusses how this information can address questions that arise in immigration proceedings.