USCIS Updates Policy Guidance on CSPA

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has issued new policy guidance on how it will implement the Child Status Protection Act (“CSPA”).

CSPA was created to help at least some children of prospective immigrants from “aging out” – being unable to get a green card along with the rest of their family because they turned 21 before the family cases were be approved.

CSPA mandates an algorithmic calculation where a child’s “CSPA age” is calculated by determining the age of the derivative child when the principal parent’s immigrant visa became current per the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin, and subtracting the amount of time that the immigrant visa was pending.  If the child’s CSPA Age after this calculation is under 21, they can get a green card along with their family even though their actual age might be over 21.  A child who is 22 when their parent’s priority date becomes current will thus be able to get a green card under the parent’s case if the immigrant petition had been pending for 366 days, but not if it had only been pending 364 days.

The new guidance changes where the child’s age when the parent’s case becomes current – the starting age from which the time the immigrant visa is pending – is obtained. The State Department’s Visa Bulletin contains two charts for both family- and employment-based immigrant visa categories: a “Final Action Date” chart when a case can actually be approved, and a “Dates for Filing” chart with dates earlier in time than those in the “Final Action Dates” chart when a case may be filed, but not yet approved.

Where in the past the starting age of the calculation was the age of the child when the parent’s immigrant visa became current per the “Final Action Dates” chart, this guidance now directs the use of the “Dates for Filing” chart.  The earlier dates on that chart mean that a child will have a younger starting age for the CSPA calculation – and so a younger CSPA age when the same period of time (the time the immigrant petition had been pending) was subtracted.  This change will help many older children of prospective immigrants where were just barely aged out to now be able to adjust along with their families.

Until February 14, 2023, the USCIS calculated the CSPA age of a child of the applicant using the Final Action Dates Chart. The new policy is somewhat more lenient in that the USCIS will now use the dates in the Dates of Filing Chart if the agency agrees to use that chart in accepting AOS applications for a particular month.

This new policy is expected to slightly decrease the number of children who “age-out” under the CSPA age formula and can no longer get green cards together with their parents.