Family courts in California may process petitions under SIJ, also known as special immigrant juveniles. However, in order to process those petitions, the law must be followed and specific facts in state court must be found. In OC v. Superior Court, the issue was whether or not the court made the requisite findings for a SIJ case.
In the United States, abandoned and unaccompanied minors may apply for special immigrant status. If granted, the minor can apply for status as a permanent legal resident. The law requires state and federal courts to work together. The state court makes findings that the minor child has been abandoned by his or her parents and cannot return to the country of origin. Once these findings are met, a petition is submitted to the federal immigration office. In OC v. Superior Court, OC was a minor whose mother had passed away and whose father had apparently abandoned the child in Guatemala. The minor petitioned the Superior Court to process her SIJ request
The trial court processed the paperwork and approved the petition for SIJ. However, on the documents showing approval for the SIJ findings, the court did not state the reasons as to why the court believed that OC qualified for SIJ status. Those findings are mandatory, because the federal government will not process an immigration petition without those findings. The court clerk would not amend the paperwork and OC appealed the order.
The Fourth District Court agreed with OC. It stated that in order for a minor child to qualify for this program, certain information must be stated on the granted petition. The family court must determine three things in the petition: (1) the child was either declared a dependent of the court or placed under the custody of a court-appointed guardian. This finding must also include the initial date that it began; (2) the second item the family court must find is that the child cannot reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other similar basis based on California law. This finding must also include the date on which reunification was determined not to be viable; and (3) the court must determine that it is not in the child’s best interest to return to the child’s previous country. In every SIJ petition the court must state these facts on the approved petition. If it is not provided, then the petition is inadequate.
If you need legal advice and are looking for a family law lawyer in Orange County to address a SIJ issue or a divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, custody, child support, spousal support and/or property division, please consider Treviño Law in your divorce attorney search. We are located in Laguna Hills right off Lake Forest exit to both the 405 and 5 freeway.
Although the posting of this information can be considered free legal advice for a divorce in Orange County, it does not address other factors which may play a significant role in a particular dissolution. Circumstances in your divorce may alter the results in your dissolution.
Please note that this legal advice does not establish a family law attorney-client relationship. This is a legal advertisement for Treviño Law, Inc.