The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP) is pleased to announce the publication of the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Bench Book: A National Guide to Best Practice for Judges and Courts.

This Bench Book is instrumental in assisting judges hearing cases in issuing Special Immigrant Juveniles Status (SIJS) findings in a wide range of state court cases involving immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent.

SIJS is a form of humanitarian immigration relief that provides for a path to lawful permanent residence for children who are unable to reunite with one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment, neglect, or a similar basis under state law. The Bench Book contains quick reference guides for courts issuing SIJS findings in custody, protection order, guardianship, dependency, delinquency, adoption, and declaratory judgement cases. It also provides an overview of SIJS laws and best practices for family court procedures and drafting of findings in SIJS cases. The appendices offer a state-by-state resource on definitions of abuse, abandonment, neglect, SIJS case law and all state best interests of the child factors. These charts will also provide an important resource to judges hearing custody, protection order and other family court cases, particularly those involving immigrant victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

This Bench Book was developed by the National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project (NIWAP), working in collaboration with Michigan State University College of Law and a national team of judges with whom NIWAP presents trainings for state court judges on SIJS. The Bench Book was supported by the State Justice Institute and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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