Dear Attorney Gurfinkel:
I am a green card holder and in 2022, I filed petitions for my two children, who are in the Philippines (Category F-2A). The petitions are still pending, and I am very worried because one of my children is 20 and the other is 19, and I’m afraid they may age out.
I was thinking that perhaps I could urge USCIS to expedite the approval of their petitions so they could arrive in the US before their 21st birthdays. Do you think it would be a good idea to have their petitions expedited?
Very truly yours,
For most people facing an urgent situation or emergency, they naturally think that expediting the case is the best thing to do. However, when it comes to a child’s eligibility under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), in some cases it is actually more beneficial to not expedite the case but instead to allow the petition to be pending as long as possible. It sounds strange, doesn’t it?
The reason is that under the CSPA, the longer a petition is pending, the more time you can subtract from a child’s age when the priority date eventually becomes current. The faster the petition is approved, the less time you can subtract from the child’s age. In fact, I have a YouTube channel, US Immigration TV, where I have posted videos dealing with the CSPA and strategies to increase the chances of your child being protected from aging out.
In your particular case, it may not be helpful to expedite the case based on the current priority dates for F-2A if the child is undergoing consular processing. For example, the F-2A priority dates have retrogressed (moved backwards) several years. In August 2023, the F-2A priority date for the Philippines is Oct. 8, 2017. For September 2023, the priority date is Jan. 1, 2018. If you filed your petitions for your children in 2022, there are still several more years before the priority date will be current. If you now “expedite” the approval and the petitions are approved in 2023, you would have only one year to subtract from their ages when the priority date becomes current. However, if it takes USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) a lot longer to approve the petitions, then you’re able to subtract more time from the children’s ages when the priority date eventually becomes current.
If the children were in the US, the analysis may be different because USCIS uses the dates for filing chart (Chart B) for calculating ages, whereas the embassy uses Chart A. It also means you have to closely monitor the visa bulletin each month to determine any forward movement in the priority dates.
I understand that the CSPA is very complex and confusing. What seems clear and obvious (such as expediting the case for a child who is aging out) may actually be detrimental to their case and eligibility. That is why you should consult with an attorney if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s CSPA eligibility. And you should do it long before their 21st birthday, as there are strict requirements and deadlines to be met. An attorney can evaluate and strategize the best course of action.
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