In Focus: The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)

How can the CSPA protect children from aging out of eligibility for permanent residency?

Due to the immense backlog for visa applications, President Bush signed into law The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) in 2002.  The law will apply when a minor applies for an immigration visa or an adjustment of status and during the process he or she turns 21 years old.  Ordinarily, this would block the former child from becoming a permanent resident of the United States.  The CSPA recognizes the issue of long processing times and essentially provides older minors with more time to successfully become residents.  Our family based immigration lawyers offer more information about the CSPA below.

Who Is a Child Under Immigration Law?

Under federal law, a child is an unmarried individual under the age of 21.  Many alien children can seek immigration benefits if they are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  However, traditionally, should the child turn 21 while his or her application for an immigration visa is still pending, the young adult loses his or her eligibility for a Green Card.

The Child Status Protection Act will take effect when an alien child is the beneficiary of a pending or approved visa petition filed after 2002 and must seek to become a permanent resident within a year of the visa coming available.  If the CSPA applies, the applicant’s age will be frozen. 

To calculate the frozen date, you will need to determine when the visa numbers became available.  You will then deduct the time taken by the USCIS to approve the visa from the age of the child.  If the child is under 21 according to this formula, his or her age will be frozen and the CPSA will apply to preserve the child’s rights.  Parents of an alien minor child should contact an immigration lawyer as soon as possible to determine the swiftest method to achieve lawful permanent residency. 

If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107) or by visiting our Law Firm’s website at