The US administration has announced a planned policy under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) to protect underage (minor) sponsored immigrants from losing eligibility to obtain lawful permanent resident status after they attained age 21. The new policy is intended to protect certain noncitizen children from losing eligibility to obtain lawful permanent resident status based on an approved visa petition by freezing the child’s age when determining an immigrant visa number for the minor.
Currently, for a child minor to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the US based on his/her parent’s (or other sponsorship) approved petition for a green card or employment-based visa, the child generally must be under the age of 21 at the time of granting of the residency permit (final act).
If the child turns 21, he or she and “ages out” during the waiting period that could take many years, the child is disqualified for the green card. The child cannot immigrate with the parent.
Under the new planned guidelines, the USCIS will freeze the child’s age at the time of sponsorship and protect him or her from “aging out”. The planned policy will give non-citizens certainty about their eligibility to adjust their status, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced.
The policy will also allow these non-citizens to adjust their status and also be eligible to apply for employment and travel authorization based on their pending adjustment of status application. In adjustment of status, they will not lose previously issued employment or travel authorization.
It is not clear if Congress has to approve the new planned policy and whether it will go into immediate effect and how the child’s age for eligibility for status will be calculated or frozen. But a report says the policy change take effect immediately and applies to pending applications. Therefore, minors with a pending application may now have a CSPA age that is under 21 based on this change. Over 250K children, including thousands of Guyanese and other Caribbean nationals, are impacted by this new policy change.
A lawyer for immigrants with pending applications of minors for green cards said “to permanently end aging out, a bipartisan legislative solution like the America’s Children Act will be needed”.