13 June 2022
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A new bill establishing a juvenile guardianship process for at-risk youth ages 18-21 was signed into law Monday.
The bill signed by Gov. Tim Walz is meant to help ensure that those youth receive resources necessary for their health, safety and education.
Before, the state of Minnesota only had a process in place for youth under the age of 18. This created an issue for immigrant youth 18-21 years old attempting to gain immigration protection under Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
SIJS is an immigration classification that allows for individuals to apply for and obtain legal permanent residence in the United States. It is available to certain undocumented immigrants under 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents.
Guardianship is the most common way for the family court to obtain jurisdiction over a minor, allowing them to apply for SIJS. Youth 18-21 in Minnesota would have to jump through more hoops and wait longer for protection as they were not eligible for the juvenile guardian process.
As a result of the new act, more immigrant youth will now be able to get a green card, obtain work authorization and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.
The bill was passed with bipartisan support in both the Minnesota House and Senate.