US Supreme Court Revisits Child Status Protection Act

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today to decide if family green card petitioners in certain categories may retain their child status even after turning 21 years of age.This problem occurs due to the long processing times for permanent resident status.Petitioners may be children under the immigration laws when the process begins, but have often aged out before the process is finalized.

For example, many families from countries such as Mexico and the Philippines must wait 10 to 20 years for permanent resident status.   Children may reach their 21st birthdays before their visa number or priority date comes up in the visa quota, thus excluding them from their family petition.This has resulted in countless cases of young adults remaining in unlawful status while the rest of their family is bestowed legal status; their mother, father, and younger siblings who did not age out during processing are awarded green cards.

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was passed to give some relief to aged-out individuals who can show that their petitions were delayed by immigration officials and not the visa quota itself.The law further states that those who do not meet the aforementioned qualification can still have their new petitions expedited by maintaining their visa numbers and using those numbers to pursue new petitions through other family members.The government is fighting to eliminate this interpretation.If the Court agrees with the government and disallows expedited processing for aged-out young adults, these individuals could wait an additional 10 to 20 years for their visa to become available.

Our firm will be watching oral arguments closely.Our attorneys hope that the CSPA protections remain intact.Permanent resident status should not be denied to young adults because of procedural delays, especially when the rest of their family members are able to secure status.

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