Frequently Asked Questions About the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)
Some people over the age of 21 may still be eligible for immigration benefits as a “child”. This edition of our Ask-the-Consul answers some frequently asked questions about the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).
1. What is the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)?
The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) of 2002 was enacted to preserve the “childhood” status of certain beneficiaries who otherwise “age” (reach the age of 21 before they can obtain a visa immigrant) due to administrative delays in visa processing.
2. For immigration purposes, who is considered a “child”?
US immigration law defines a child as a person who is both unmarried and under the age of 21. The CSPA allows some people to remain classified as children beyond their 21st birthday. However, if you marry, you will lose the status of “child”.
3. My petition was filed many years ago and my child (who is now 21) was initially included. I just received my appointment letter and it is not included. What do I do?
If your file has been assigned an appointment date and has been transferred to the Embassy for processing, you can email us the child’s birth certificate along with an application which we verify if CSPA applies to you. Be sure to include your case number. To avoid processing delays, you must contact us prior to the visa interview date. Note that not all children will be eligible. CSPA uses specific guidance to determine eligibility.
4. My file is still at the National Visa Center (NVC) and my daughter will be 21 soon. I’m afraid it will be removed from my file. Can my file be expedited to avoid this?
If your case’s priority date is current, NVC may make an interim decision regarding your child’s continued eligibility under CSPA. If they determine that the child will not benefit from the CSPA, the file can be sent to the Embassy. If the child continues to be eligible on the CSPA basis, the case will not be expedited. You can contact NVC directly using their contact form at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/national-visa-center/nvc-contact-information.html.
5. The Embassy informed me that my child, who was originally on my file, was not eligible for a visa under the CSPA. What do I do now?
Unfortunately, not all people will continue to be eligible for immigration benefits as “children” after reaching the age of 21. In these cases, the principal plaintiff can file an I-130 petition for the child after entering the United States.
6. How exactly do you determine if a child over 21 will continue to receive CASP? Is it at the discretion of the consular officer?
Determining whether a child is admissible after reaching the age of 21 is not at the discretion of a consular officer. Instead, CSPA provides a specific mathematical formula to determine a child’s “CSPA age.” If the formula returns a “CSPA age” below 21, the applicant may continue to receive it. For detailed information on the formula used, please see https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/child-status-protection-act-cspa.
“Ask the Consul” is a monthly column from the U.S. Embassy that answers questions about U.S. immigration law and visa issues. Detailed visa and travel information can be found at https://gy.usembassy.gov/, https://ais.usvisa-info.com/, and https://travel.state.gov/. Applicants are strongly encouraged to prepare their own documentation and avoid third party advice. US consular rules change frequently and non-US government advisors often provide inadequate or inaccurate information. Please contact our Visa Information Service Center toll free: 1-877-246-6788 or 703-988-5765 if you have general visa questions. »