How does the "Child Status Protection Act" work in Nevada?

Under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), alien children in Nevada may be able to remain legal residents after turning 21 if (1) they have pending visa "alien relative" petitions, and (2) they apply for green cards within a year of getting a visa. The CSPA is meant to prevent non-citizen kids from "aging out" due to the large backlog of visa petitions.

Below our Las Vegas CSPA attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about how the Child Status Protection Act operates in Nevada. Click on a topic to go directly to that section.

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Congress enacted the CSPA to allow some documented children to remain in the U.S. legally after they become adults.

1. What is the CSPA?

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) permits some individuals to stay covered under the “child” classification even after that individual has reached 21 years old. The CSPA amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by updating who qualifies as a child for immigration purposes.

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A child is defined as an unmarried person under 21 years old.

Immigration laws define “child” as any individual who is:

  • unmarried, and
  • under 21 years old

Prior to CSPA in 2002, a beneficiary who turned 21 at any time prior to receiving permanent resident status could not be considered a child for immigration-related issues. Effectively, he or she “aged out.” So for an immigrant family living in Nevada, children who reached age 21 with visa applications still pending needed to begin the visa process all over again, and in some situations, faced removal.

Once Congress recognized that many people were aging out because of lengthy administrative waiting periods, Congress implemented the CSPA to resolve the issue. CSPA's protections impact children of immigrants who came to the U.S. on family-based visas (such as spousal visas and non-immigrant spousal visas), employment-based visas, and certain humanitarian programs, such as VAWA.

In essence, the CSPA "freezes" the age of a child for visa eligibility purposes. Note that CSPA beneficiaries do not have to pay an extra fee.1

2. Am I eligible for the CSPA in Las Vegas?

An individual hoping to gain CSPA protection must meet these eligibility requirements:

  • The individual must be the beneficiary of a pending or approved visa petition on or after August 6, 2002;
  • The individual must not have received a final decision regarding an application for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa prior to August 6, 2002; and
  • The individual has to “seek to acquire” permanent residence within one year of a visa becoming available. The phrase “seek to acquire” includes having a USCIS Form I-824 filed on the child's behalf or the filing of USCIS Form I-485, or submitting a Form DS-230.
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The CSPA "freezes" a child's age for visa purposes.

In some situations, an individual may be eligible for permanent residence under CSPA after one year of a visa becoming available if all of the following apply:

  • He/she is a beneficiary of a visa petition which was approved prior to August 6, 2002;
  • He/she had not received a final decision on the application for permanent residence based or immigrant visa on that visa petition before August 6, 2002;
  • The visa became available only on or after August 7, 2001; and
  • He/she has met all other requirements to be considered for CSPA.2

Note Nevada maintains two immigration offices that offer fingerprinting services: The Las Vegas Immigration Office, and the Reno Immigration Office.

3. What is the CSPA "opt-out" option?

An alternative type of relief offered with CSPA is an “opt-out.” This kind of relief is very limited, and a permanent resident petitioner must meet the following guidelines in order to be eligible.

  • The petition filed a USCIS Form I-130 for an unwed son or daughter, and
  • Then the petitioner naturalized

In this situation, the child of the petitioner may opt to stay in the second preference classification (children 21 or older) rather than automatically change to a first preference classification (children under 21). This alternative form of relief can be preferable when the waiting time frame for the second preference visa is shorter than the waiting time for the first preference visa. A request for opting-out has to be made in writing and submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In the cases of individuals who qualify for refugee or asylum status, CSPA will provide relief for those who have aged out on or after August 6, 2002. However, the child must remain unmarried in order to benefit from this CSPA protection.3

Do You Need an Attorney in Nevada?

If you are questioning whether you may be protected under the CSPA, contact our Las Vegas NV immigration attorneys. We may be able to determine whether you are eligible for this type of relief and help you through the process. For a consultation on any immigration issue, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

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