In 2002, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was passed by the federal government, thus allowing for the option for immigrants to maintain their child status if they turn 21 during the processing of their visa application. The intent behind the act, which has now been in effect for more than a decade, was to keep immigrant families intact when the waiting times for family-based and / or employment-based visas can take up to 20+ years to complete.
At Pozo Goldstein, LLP, more than 90 years of combined experience can be found among the New York immigration attorneys at our firm. We were practicing immigration law long before the Child Status Protection Act was enacted, and we’ve worked on both sides of the spectrum in relation to how the law affects child immigrants who turn 21 before completing their green card applications. In this time, we have come to fully understand the process of applying for a green card, as well as the lengthy wait times that are often associated with the process. If your child will turn 21 before his or her green card application has been approved, we are here to help.
Before the CSPA was passed in 2002, immigrant children who turned 21 before their application process was complete would automatically “age out,” effectively terminating their ability to immigrate to the U.S. alongside of their family. This “aging out” process also eliminated the possibility for a child immigrant to adjust his or status after hitting the age of 21 if their green card application had not already been completed.
The problem with this “aging out” phenomenon was that it was most often happening through no fault of the child’s. Rather, it was a direct reflection of the system’s inability to process these applications in a manner timely enough to accommodate a child’s “coming of age.” The administrative delays felt by United States immigration processing were adversely affecting a child immigrant’s ability to solidify his or her status in the U.S.
The enactment of the CSPA effectively put an end to the underlying problems felt by child immigrants who were continuously “aging out” of their ability to immigrate or adjust status in the U.S. By freezing the age of a child immigrant at the time that his or her U.S. citizen parent submits a visa petition on the child’s behalf, the threat of “aging out” was effectively eliminated. The same freezing of age can be applied to cases in which a petitioning permanent resident parent naturalizes, as well as those in which a married son or daughter who has been petitioned by a U.S. citizen parent divorces or widows.
According to the CSPA, a petition for visa application that is made on behalf of an individual who is under the age of 21 will effectively “lock” the age of the child at the time that the application was submitted. CSPA uses a mathematical formula to ensure that an immigrant child’s age will not prohibit him or her from obtaining legal status in the U.S. Instead, the length of processing (aka time pending) for a visa application will be subtracted from the child’s age. If, for whatever reason, the child still “ages out” during the visa application process, and must in turn apply for a different visa, their original starting date will be used.
The Child Status Protection Act of 2002 can be applied to many immigrants who were sponsored for green cards before August of 2002 as well. Although the provisions of the CSPA weren’t established until 2002, they can also be used to help immigrants whose sponsorship for a green card began before the CSPA was enacted. Therefore, we encourage all child immigrants to contact our office for legal support when applying for a green card in the U.S.
Whether you are just now taking action to secure legal status in the U.S. as a child immigrant, or your attempts began many years ago, we are here to assist in your efforts to secure a green card in the United States. Under our direction, you can trust that your rights as a child immigrant will be upheld to the fullest extent of the law. We are here to help immigrant families make their transition into the U.S., and this includes your family as well, so don’t wait to contact us today.