Resources on Child Status Protection Act

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The Child Status Protection Act, or CSPA, was enacted in 2002 in an effort to prevent certain children from aging out while they wait to immigrate on a family-based petition. It helps lock in the age and preserve the “child” status of both immediate relatives and those in the preference categories. However, it works differently for both groups; and the filing strategy for permanent residency may depend on how old the child is at the time and whether he or she is filing to adjust status or consular process.

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The Ninth Circuit recently upended a long-held interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act. Read more to see how this affects a child’s immigration classification when the petitioning parent naturalizes.

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In the almost 15 years since the Child Status Protection Act was implemented, most practitioners probably have a basic grasp of the fundamental principles. But it has subtleties and more areas of complexity. Let’s do a quick review.

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The State Department recently modified the Foreign Affairs Manual regarding what actions satisfy the one-year filing requirement under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). 9 FAM 502.1-1(D)(6). That law allows children in the F-2A category, as well as derivatives in all preference categories, to remain “children” after turning 21. They are protected and locked in as “children” if they are under 21, using their CSPA age, when their priority date becomes current in the F-2A category. Use Chart A, Application Final Action Dates, to determine when the priority date becomes current.

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The Department of State (DOS) recently confirmed that it will accept payment of the immigrant visa fee as satisfying the one-year filing requirement under the Child Status Protection Act.  In order for a child in the preference category to retain the “under 21” age status, and thus remain in the F-2A or derivative category, he or she must has “sought to acquire the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence within one year of such availability.”  INA § 203(h)(1)(A).  The USCIS and DOS have consistently held that this could only be satisfied by filing one of three forms: an

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