SIJS – Age Extended to 21 in Massachusetts

On March 4, 2016 the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts held that Probate and Family Courts in Massachusetts have equitable authority to make special findings in support of an application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for youths between the ages of 18 and 21. (Recinos v. Escobar, 46 N.E. 3d 60 (Mass. 2016).

What this means is the Probate and Family Courts in Massachusetts now have the authority to make special findings for minors above the age of 18 until they reach the age of 21. This predicate order by the State Court is a requirement to file for immigration status under the SIJS rule.

This ruling further closes a gap between the federal law, allowing Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for minors up until the age of 21, and Massachusetts case law. If you are between the ages of 18 and 21 and are present in the United States without at least one of your natural parents and feel you would be subject to abuse, neglect or abandonment if returned to your home country you may be eligible for SIJS benefits.

Currently there is pending legislation, if passed, would further create statutory law in Massachusetts defining those “dependent on the court” to include those “subject to the jurisdiction of the court for the findings, orders and referrals.” (2015 HB 1418). This would further solidify the holding in Recinos v. Escobar.

Please contact our office to inquire.

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