USCIS Provides Updates for Special Immigrant Juvenile Petitions

On November 8, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective immediately, updates are being implemented to the guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual for adjudicating special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) petitions.


The SIJ classification is designed for noncitizens in the United States who require the protection of a juvenile court due to experiencing abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent. Individuals seeking SIJ classification can submit a petition for Amerasian, widow(er), or special immigrant (form I-360). Those with SIJ classification may be eligible for lawful permanent resident status, commonly referred to as obtaining a green card.

180-Day Adjudication Timeframe

In passing the law creating the SIJ classification, Congress required that these cases be adjudicated within 180 days from the date of filing. In March 2022, however, the USCIS published a final rule concerning SIJ cases involving a request for evidence (RFE). Specifically, the rule stipulated that the 180-day adjudication timeframe resets when the USCIS issues an RFE on an SIJ case. And, the 180-day timeframe does not begin again until the applicant then responds to the RFE.

Court Strikes Down Final Rule, Leading to Policy Update

Based on a legal challenge against the final rule, a federal district court issued a declaratory judgment in July 2023, stating that the 180-day adjudicatory timeframe is not reset when the USCIS issues an RFE. In response to this declaratory judgment, the USCIS has now updated its Policy Manual to align with the ruling. This update explains that the guidance within the Policy Manual takes precedence over any preceding related guidance.


The SIJ program is intended to protect some of the most vulnerable young members of the population. What makes America great is our protecting juveniles and affording them opportunities in this country, a nation of immigrants. The Murthy Law Firm will continue to share helpful information on this topic to afford opportunities for juveniles who will be able to benefit from this updated USCIS guidance.



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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.