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Law Offices Of Robert M. Bell | Immigration And Nationality Attorneys

What Happens If a Child Ages Out Before Receiving a Green Card?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2022 | Blog

Green card applications can take a long time to process, even for immediate relatives such as children. If you’re a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR), you should know your child may no longer qualify as your immediate relative under certain conditions.

If you’re filing Form I-130, keep reading to learn how to best sponsor your child despite the “aging out” law.

The team at The Law Offices of Robert M. Bell, P.A., provides legal immigration assistance of the highest standard. Call us at 954.241.4209 to schedule a consultation.

What Does It Mean for My Child to Age Out?

U.S. immigration law defines the child of an LPR as:

  • Under age 21.
  • Unmarried.

If your child does not meet these parameters, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) categorizes your child as an adult.

Why Should I Be Concerned About My Child Aging Out?

The USCIS treats spouses and children under age 21 as relatives with first preference status (F-1 classification). This status translates to shorter application-processing times.

Nonetheless, the processing of I-130 forms can take years. If you’re an LPR who has filed the I-130 for your child, your child may turn 21 while awaiting green card approval. As a result, your child has aged out per immigration law and no longer holds first preference status.

The USCIS then reassigns your child as a second preference case (F-2B classification). USCIS does not prioritize second preference cases as much because they see your child as not dependent on you.

Are There Exceptions to the Aging Out Rule?

If you become a naturalized U.S. citizen and sponsor your child via the I-130, your child automatically becomes a first preference case. This reclassification happens regardless of your child’s age or marital status.

In rarer situations, if your child is under 21 and divorces or becomes widowed, you can notify USCIS of their change in status. This update will restore your child’s status to immediate relative.

Child Status Protection Act

You should also consider the Child Status Protection Act of 2002 (CSPA) when filing the I-130 for your child.

Congress passed the CSPA when finding that many children were aging out due to long processing times. This act ruled that children younger than 21 upon time of I-130 filing became “frozen” at that age. Because of this law, even if children reach age 21 while awaiting their green card outcome, they retain first preference status.

How Can I Prevent the Aging Out Rule When Filing the I-130 for My Child?

Depending on your child’s circumstances, you should take these steps to best position your child for green card approval:

  • File Form I-130 before your child turns 21 or marries.
  • Attempt to obtain U.S. naturalization while your I-130 is in processing.

Get Personalized Counsel from South Florida Immigration Attorneys

Still have questions about your child’s green card eligibility? The legal team at Robert M. Pell, P.A., has years of experience consulting and defending immigrants. Call us at 954.241.4209 for a free consultation.