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Special Immigrant Juveniles Will Now Face Years and Years of Wait Time Before Getting a Green Card

Due to the high demand for Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have already reached their yearly limit for available visas in the EB-4 category, the category in which the Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas fall. The fiscal year lasts until September 30. The May 2016 visa bulletin shows that on May 1, 2016, the date on which visas will be current for Special Immigrant Juvenile applicants, will regress back to January 1, 2010, for applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Applicants whose applications for Adjustment of Status are not decided by May 1, 2016, and whose Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions were filed after January 1, 2010, will not be able to apply for Adjustment of Status until the visa becomes current again. Applicants whose applications for Adjustment of Status are decided by May 1, 2016, or whose Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions were filed before January 1, 2010, will not be affected by the change.


What does all of that mean?

This means that the approved Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas of children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras whose Applications for Adjustment of Status, or applications for their green cards, are not approved before May 1, 2016, will not be able to get their green cards. Beginning May 1, 2016, only children who filed their Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa petitions on January 1, 2010, or earlier, will have current Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas and be able apply for Adjustment of Status.

Children who applied later will have to wait. For children who applied for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status after January 1, 2010, even if their visas are approved, their visas will retrogress backwards so far that there will be an over six year wait for their visas to become current again to be able to use to apply for Adjustment of Status.


How long will I have to wait?

In the coming years, the exact wait time for a Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa to be current in order for the child to use the visa to get a green card in May or after will be hard to predict. Future visa availability will depend on a combination of demand for numbers being reported each month and the extent to which otherwise unused numbers become available. Information on EB-4 visa availability for fiscal year 2017 for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will appear in the Department of State’s October 2016 Visa Bulletin, which will be published September of 2016. We will have to wait until September to see how long of a wait, if any, children will have for Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas to be current in order to be used to apply for a green card in 2017.Congress has the authority to lift the per country limit but has not done so for the Special Immigrant Juvenile category.


If you know children who have pending applications for Adjustment of Status based on an approved Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas, contact USCIS or the immigration court for a decision on the adjustment of status as SOON as possible to avoid the visa retrogressing and the child waiting years for a green card.

Anna Erwin, Esq.

Associate

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