Sat., August 25, 2012 2:00pm (EDT)

Path For Immigrant Youth In State Care
By Associated Press
Updated: 2 years ago

CUMMING, Ga.  —  
The special visa program requires that people be under the age of 21, unmarried and a dependent of the state when they apply. (Photo courtesy: Jeanne Bonner)
The special visa program requires that people be under the age of 21, unmarried and a dependent of the state when they apply. (Photo courtesy: Jeanne Bonner)
Advocates say the recent Obama administration policy change won't directly change a little-known visa program for young illegal immigrants. But it may make young illegal immigrants more comfortable coming forward for help.

Special immigrant juvenile status has helped 10,000 people become legal permanent residents since 1997. It has long been overshadowed by fiery debates over illegal immigration and strict crackdowns passed in Arizona, Utah, Georgia and Alabama.

The special visa program requires that people be under the age of 21, unmarried and a dependent of the state when they apply.

The deferred action policy allows some young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation by obtaining temporary work permits, so it could be a fallback option for people who don't qualify for the visa. But the SIJS visa is permanent.