The End SIJS Backlog Coalition, a project of The National Immigration Project, and Tulane Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic issued a report, False Hopes: Over 100, 000 Immigrant Youth Trapped in the SIJS Backlog, on Monday, December 4, 2023. The report highlights new data obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and lawsuit. As of March 2023, 107,693 youth with approved SIJS petitions were waiting for a visa to become available so that they may apply for lawful permanent residence. Impacted youth come from 151 countries and live in all 50 states, with the top states being New York, California, and Maryland. The data also revealed that the average wait time for USCIS to approve a SIJS petition in fiscal year 2023 was 263 days, in violation of the statutory 180-day deadline for adjudication. The report features the stories of SIJS youth who share the impact of the backlog on their lives.
The report recommends that Congress pass the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act (H.R. 4285 and S. 1885), bills endorsed by the American Bar Association, to exempt SIJS youth from the numerical limitations of the employment-based visa caps. Additional administrative recommendations that will protect SIJS youth during their years-long wait in the backlog, are included in the report. The report was covered in a NBC News article and Slate op-ed.