Child Status Protection Act
The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was enacted in August 6, 2002 to keep immigrant families intact despite family-based and employment-based waiting times which can take many years.
Prior to CSPA, once a child of the principal beneficiary turned 21 years of age, he or she “aged-out” and was no longer able to immigrate (or adjust status) along with his or her parents. CSPA “freezes the age” of immediate relative children when their petitioning U.S. citizen parent submits a visa petition on their behalf; when a petitioning permanent resident parent naturalizes; or when a married son or daughter who has been petitioned by a U.S. citizen parent becomes divorced or widowed.
CSPA also creates a mathematical formula which allows the amount of time that a visa petition was pending to be subtracted from a child’s age at the time when priority became current for the principal beneficiary.
What happens if a child “ages-out” despite the mathematical formula? Again, the Child Status Protection Act provides relief for “aged-out” children in the form of the “automatic conversion” clause. Unmarried sons and daughters are permitted to retain the priority date of the original petition and automatically convert to the appropriate category. However, this subsection of CSPA is currently being litigated in the Supreme Court.
CSPA also contains an “opt-out” clause which permits unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizen to choose between the family-based 1st and 2B preference categories depending on which category allows them to reunite with their parents faster.
CSPA is applicable not only to persons who were sponsored for lawful permanent residence after the law took effect, but to many people who were sponsored for green cards prior to. Therefore, it applies many thousands of persons.