One of the things I love most about my job is watching people’s lives transform when they no longer have to worry about immigration. It’s like watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon – beautiful and free. Their lives are wide open and full of opportunity. This is particularly meaningful when we get to see this happen with children and teenagers because, truly, their world is whatever they make it.

Over the last few months, I’ve had the honor of working on several Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases. These cases involve children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a biological parent, where it’s in the child’s best interest to remain in the United States, and there’s a guardian here in the U.S. who can care for them. Sadly, many of our cases involve children who had a parent die and the other parent was never part of their life. Thankfully, though, the child has a family member in the United States, sometimes a grandparent or an aunt or uncle who can care for them.

We’ve worked with Juvenile Courts in various metro-Atlanta area counties and have been successful in obtaining Dependency Orders. The Dependency Order is the very first step in helping these immigrant kids obtain status. Once the order has been signed, we are able to file an I-360 to have the child classified as a Special Immigrant Juvenile. In some cases, we’re also able to file for a green card at the same time. If both forms are approved, the child becomes a lawful permanent resident and will hopefully eventually become a U.S. citizen.

We are grateful to the families who put their trust in us and allow us to walk with them through some difficult times. Watching any life transform is absolutely amazing. Watching a child’s life transform forever, well…that’s extra-special.