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What Happens if a Child Ages Out Before Receiving a Green Card?

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Sometimes parents go to the United States alone to work hard, and after they have stabilized their lives and obtained legal status, they will consider bringing their overseas children to the United States to live together. When this happens, these parents will consider how to apply for legal status for their children so that they can come to the United States. Immigration law is important to all immigrants, and immigrants must follow all the changes to the immigration law carefully.


If Form I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) is filed for the child of an immigrant, but the child turns 21 before receiving a green card, they are no longer considered a child for immigration purposes, and they must apply for a different immigration status to stay in the U.S. lawfully.



Congress passed the Child Status Protection Act, or CSPA, to prevent children from aging out due to long processing backlogs by the immigration agencies. CSPA “freezes” the child’s age on the date their sponsoring U.S. citizen parent submits an I-130 petition on their behalf; the date a sponsoring permanent resident parent becomes a U.S. citizen; or the date a married son or daughter sponsored by a U.S. citizen parent becomes divorced or widowed. This “frozen age” is often referred to as the child’s “CSPA age.”



CSPA age for children in visa preference categories is calculated by subtracting the length of time the I-130 was pending from the child’s age on the date an immigrant visa became available. To take advantage of the CSPA provisions, a child in a preference category must “seek to acquire” permanent residence in the U.S. within one year of the visa number becoming available.



Typically, if the child’s CSPA age turns out to be 21 or older, they will be automatically reclassified into the appropriate preference category – often the family-based 2B category.


However, if the child’s parents become U.S. citizens after their CSPA age is 21 or older, the parent’s naturalization typically converts the child’s petition from the F-2B preference category to the 1st preference category, F-1. Due to per-country caps on visa issuance, certain countries have very long wait times to immigrate in categories like F-1, though the F-2A category has been current according to today's visa bulletin.


Blumsack & Canzano, P.C. In a world of uncertainty, you and your family may want to maximize their choices—both in terms of lifestyle and opportunities. Whatever your motivation, Blumsack & Canzano, P.C. always has trusted immigration advisors. We deliver comprehensive solutions and a seamless immigration experience for you, your family, and your advisors around the world.

The experienced immigration lawyers at Blumsack & Canzano, P.C. provide various legal services to employers, employees, individuals, and families in the Boston area and other areas. Immigration issues are complex, and if they are not handled properly, they may have serious impacts. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are committed to providing customers with comprehensive solutions in all areas of immigration law.


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