What is the Child Status Protection Act and How Can it Help My Child?

Child Status Protection Act

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was passed to address the fact that many children are harmed by due to the length of time it takes for their parent’s green card cases to process. While its goal was to help some of these kids, it unfortunately does not offer nearly as much relief as one would hope. Here is a very brief overview of what the CSPA does. Because it is complicated, if you have children who may be affected by this issue, we strongly recommend you consult with an attorney to review the specific facts of your case and offer guidance specific to your case.

Children who are receiving a green card as a derivative beneficiary of one of their parents (who is receiving a green card based upon an offer of employment from a US employer) must have the final step of their green card case completed before their 21st birthday.

That deadline may be extended by the amount of time it took to process the parent’s I-140 petition. This period is calculated as the amount of time which passes from the date on which USCIS receives the I-140 petition, to the date on which the I-140 approval notice is issued. CSPA does not include in this calculation the amount of time required to wait for a priority date to become current. Many people think that if the I-140 is filed before their child’s 21st birthday, they will be protected. Unfortunately, this is not true.

As an example, if an I-140 petition took exactly 180 days in 2012 to be processed by USCIS and a child turned 21 on January 1st, 2015 the child would have until June 30 (180 days after January 1) of the same year to have the child’s green card case completed. That would mean the parent’s priority date would have to become current, and the final step of the case (consular processing of the green card or processing of an application to adjust status if the family is inside the U.S.) would have to be completed before June 30, 2015, or the child would lose the right to receive a green card through the parent.

This is a very generic overview of the way in which CSPA works. It has a variety of exceptions and conditions which must be met. For that reason, you need to consider two things:

  1. If you are currently processing a green card case and have a child who will soon be turning 21, you need to pursue all options available to expedite the processing of the case, including things such as using premium processing for the petition, and getting the help of anyone authorized to do so to move the case along. Simply having the I-140 filed before the child’s 21st birthday does not provide any protection at all.
  2. Meet with an attorney immediately to review all of your options and make sure you take advantage of everything the CSPA has to offer. Better to know what you are facing before you start, rather than finding out a few years down the road when you suddenly discover your child cannot receive a green card.