Shook Gains Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for Minor

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ) to a West African minor orphaned upon entry into the United States. Gaining SIJ is rare with only five percent of such cases approved. The result means the teenager may potentially receive lawful permanent residency in the United States through receiving a Green Card.

Navigating multiple agencies, the challenges of COVID and language barriers made the case exceedingly difficult. But Associate Torrey Peterson and Research Analyst Lindsay Switzer always kept the client’s well-being first. Switzer, who has previous working experience as an immigration paralegal, navigated the asylum process in completing and filing the necessary applications.

“On immigration cases, there’s a deep desire for us to support our clients and Torrey went up and beyond,” said Switzer. “She (the client) wouldn't’t have gotten the special immigration juvenile status once she turned 18. We would’ve had to file an entire asylum application. It would’ve been an entire game changer, this was the most beautiful way for it to turn out.”

Peterson, who normally focuses on product liability litigation, said the case required a team approach and when it was over, she called it deeply satisfying.

“This case was the most difficult case I have worked on and required a lot of insight and experience.  Lindsay and Claire (Hillman) were instrumental in helping me navigate USCIS and the Immigration Court system,” said Peterson.

Partners Hassia Diolombi and Russell Shankland provided oversight and support on the case.