State Letter #10-11: Eligibility for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program for Children Granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Eligibility for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program for Children Granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status by the Department of Homeland Security
TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES
FROM: Eskinder Negash
Office of Refugee Resettlement
SUBJECT: Eligibility for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program for Children Granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status by the Department of Homeland Security
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA 2008) makes a child who has been granted special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and who was in HHS custody or was receiving Cuban and Haitian entrant services at the time dependency was granted eligible for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program.1 The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has developed the policies and procedures in this State Letter and the attached application to govern the possible entry into the URM program of children granted SIJ status. ORR will continue to review the implementation of this policy and make necessary adjustments as this program moves forward.
SIJ Application for Placement in the URM Program
- Attorneys or others, such as, but not limited to, social workers, acting on behalf of a child granted SIJ status must complete the SIJ Application for Placement in the URM Program.
- The application, supporting documentation, and a G-28, EOIR-28, EOIR-29 or other form of authorization to act on behalf of the child must be submitted to the following address: email@example.com.
- If the child will turn 18 in 31 calendar days or less from submission of the application, the request must be marked URGENT in the email subject line.
- ORR will acknowledge receipt of the application within two business days.
- ORR may request additional information to determine a child’s eligibility and need for URM placement. ORR also may gather information from its own records of children in its custody.
- If the ORR Director approves the application, ORR will send a letter to the State Refugee Coordinator and the attorney (or other requestor) indicating that placement in the URM program has been approved and is effective per the date of the ORR Director’s letter; after which the child may transfer to the URM program.
- If the ORR Director denies the application, the attorney (or other requestor) will have 30 business days from the date on the notice of the denial to submit a request for reconsideration of the ORR Director’s decision. The request for reconsideration should be sent to: Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), 370 L’Enfant Promenade, S.W., 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20447, ATTENTION: URM (SIJ) Reconsideration. The ACF Assistant Secretary will send his/her decision on the reconsideration to the requestor within fifteen business days from the date of the receipt of the reconsideration request. This will be considered a final administrative decision.
The application must show that the child has met the statutory requirements; and that the State has the ability to ensure legal responsibility is established prior to the child’s 18 th birthday.
According to applicable URM regulations at 45 CFR 400.115, for a child to enter the URM program, a State court must establish legal responsibility for the child (i.e., give legal custody or guardianship of the child to a State, local public child welfare agency or licensed non-public agency). To be eligible for the URM program, a child must be eligible for foster care and independent living services under State law. In all States operating URM programs, if legal responsibility is not established prior to the child’s 18 th birthday, the child is not eligible for foster care and subsequent independent living services. Therefore, to be eligible for the URM program, the State must establish legal responsibility for the child before the child’s 18th birthday.
In assessing whether a child should be placed in the URM program, ORR will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. In making this decision, ORR will consider whether the child has family members in the United States who can care for him or her and whether such care would be better for the child than the care that could be provided under the URM program. Note that even if relatives are available, a decision still could be made to place the child in the URM program if those relatives are willing to become licensed foster care families. If a family member is in a jurisdiction where a URM program operates, and it is determined that a child may be safely and permanently placed with this family member given additional supports, ORR may recommend that the URM program facilitate licensing the family member in parity with the state's applicable foster care regulations.
- If ORR determines that a child should be placed in the URM program, then ORR will determine the best URM placement for a child taking into consideration the information submitted in the application; the available URM placements in the network; the location of relatives with whom the child has a relationship; and the child’s ability to access other needed benefits and services in the State or local community.
The URM Program:
The URM program provides specialized foster care for refugee and other special populations of children. The program operates in 15 States and provides services that are in parity with a State’s Title IV-B and Title IV-E programs. Current URM guidelines and regulations, where applicable, govern the care of the children and the requirements for States and agencies providing URM services.
For inquiries about the completion of this form or the status of an application, please contact the URM team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Section 235(d)(4) of the TVPRA 2008 states, “[a] child who has been granted special immigrant status under section 101(a)(27)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act . . . and who was either in the custody of the Secretary of Health and Human Services at the time a dependency order was granted for such child or who was receiving services pursuant to section 501(a) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 . . . at the time such dependency order was granted, shall be eligible for placement and services under section 412(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act . . until the earlier of (i) the date on which the child reaches the age designated in section 412(d)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act . . .; or (ii) the date on which the child is placed in a permanent adoptive home.”