Can you get the Green Card even if your over 21 years old?
Question: My auntie petitioned my mother when I was 3 years old. However, the visa process is so slow that it took 22 years for the visa number to become current. I was over 21 when my mother got her Green Card and the U.S. Embassy said that I aged out and could not come. Is there something that can be done without me having to wait another 10-15 years for a petition from my mother to become current?
Answer: Normally, in that case, once the child ages out, they cannot qualify to come as a derivative. There are, however, certain instances under the CSPA (Child Status Protection Act) whereby the derivative can show he or she is under the age of 21 (under immigration law.) However, in this case, that would not be applicable. Given that, the question then becomes whether you can still fall under any particular provision of the CSPA.
In this case, there was the BIA case Matter of WANG which specifically denied the priority date retention provision of the CSPA. However, the 9th Circuit Courts of Appeal has just come out with a decision which overruled the BIA and has stated essentially that this provision of the CSPA does stand and needs to be followed.
Question: What is this case and what does priority date retention mean?
Answer: First, it is necessary to understand basic immigration family petitions. You have a petitioner which is either the U.S. Citizen, or a Lawful Permanent Resident petitioning the beneficiary (which is the person who wants to come into the U.S.) Once the petition is filed (assuming it is not an Immidiate Relative) will be put into a visa line and only when the visa becomes current (sometimes many years later), can they immigrate to the U.S.
In many of these cases, the child is eligible to immigrate as a derivative at the time that the petition is filed, but once the visa number becomes current, they “age-out”. This can also occur as a direct occurrence for example from a Lawful Permanent Resident petitioning a child under 21.
Question: What exactly is the provision of the CSPA that was ruled on in the 9th Circuit case?
Answer: Well, first you have to try to do the age reduction calculation to see if the beneficiary is actually under 21 for immigration purposes. This means that even if their real age might be over 21 years their immigration age would be under 21 and they can immigrate. However, for purposes of this new case, it is only for those derivative beneficiaries and beneficiaries that have not only aged out, but cannot have their age determined to be under 21.
The CSPA in those cases under the particular provision of the CSPA, will have a petition that is automatically converted to the appropriate category. In other words, let’s say that in your example that an aunt petitioned your mother and you aged out and you cannot reduce your ‘immigration age’ to under 21. In that case, their application is automatically converted for a petition from your mother to you. This would be a Lawful Permanent Resident petitioning a son/daughter over the age of 21. This would be preference F2B.
Then the next part is the key. The CSPA allows you to then recapture or use the priority date of the petition from your auntie’s petition to your mother. As you stated, you were 3 years old when the petition was filed and you were about 24 years old when the visa number became current. This means, that under the CSPA (and now the 9th Circuit Class Action suit that agreed with the provision of the CSPA) that the priority date of the now automatically created petition is the SAME as the one your auntie filed for your mother. Therefore, the priority date will be basically over 20 years old the very moment the petition is automatically created. Since that number is now current, you can then come into the United States under this petition now. You have the petition and the visa number is current. Therefore, you can process right now to get the Green Card.
Question: So, what did the Ninth Circuit case do?
Answer: In fact, USCIS and other government agencies were denying this provision of the CSPA. They basically stated it was not supposed to do what was clearly in the law. Thus, now with the affirmation of the Ninth Circuit case, we can proceed forward with all of these CSPA cases.