The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was enacted to change who qualifies as a child for the purposes of an immigrant, in order to ensure that immigrant families remain together despite family-based and employment-based waiting times.
Before CSPA was enacted, a child who turned 21 years of age would no longer be eligible to immigrate or to adjust his or her status along with his or her parents. The Child Status Protection Act applies the age the immediate child had when their petitioning U.S. citizen submits a visa petition on their behalf. This avoids having the child “age-out” in the midst of the application process. In other words, the beneficiary’s age “freezes” on the date the petition is filed. In the case of a petition being filed by a permanent resident parent, the age of the child “freezes” on the day the parent is naturalized. CSPA also applies in the visa petition of a married son or daughter when he or she becomes divorced or widowed.
In addition, the Child Status and Protection Act subtracts the amount of time the visa petition was pending before USCIS from child’s biological age so that he or she is not penalized for the time it took USCIS to review and make a decision on the petition.
To be eligible for CSPA, the child:
- Must be the beneficiary of a pending or approved visa petition on or after August 6, 2002;
- Must not have received a final decision on an application for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa previous to August 6, 2002; AND
- Must file a Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition, a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status, or submit Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration from the Department of State within one of the year becoming available
CSPA also has a relief known as the “opt-out” for unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. This gives unmarried sons or daughters the ability to choose to between the family-based first and second preferences depending on which category allows them to reunite with their parents sooner.
Children who were sponsored for lawful permanent residence after CSPA was enacted and even certain individuals who were sponsored by their parents for green cards previous to August 6, 2002 are eligible for the benefits of the Child Status Protection Act