[COLUMN] But my child was a baby when the petition was filed!

DEAR Atty. Gurfinkel:

My sister petitioned me in 2002 in the F-4 category (brother/sister of a U.S. citizen) when my child was still a baby. Recently, the priority date became current. We paid all the fees and submitted all the forms on behalf of my family, including my child, who is now over 21.

At the interview, the consul approved my husband’s and my visas, but said my child cannot be included because he “aged out.” He was only a baby when the petition was filed, so how could he have aged out? Is there hope under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)?

Very truly yours,



Dear CD:

A child’s age and eligibility for immigration benefits under CSPA are calculated and determined based on the date the priority date finally becomes current, not their age on the date the petition was filed. This includes all family and employment-based petitions except for “immediate relative” petitions (which are petitions of U.S. citizens for their minor children, parents or spouse in which case the date of filing controls).

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) can sometimes provide relief for children who aged out. But it is very complex and can be confusing in terms of determining eligibility.

  • For immediate relatives, eligibility is determined as of the date the petition was filed. If the petition was filed before the child’s 21st birthday, the child could benefit from the CSPA, provided they don’t get married.
  • For other petitions, the child’s CSPA eligibility is determined based on when the priority date becomes current (or visa becomes available), even if they were under 21 when the petition was filed.

In your case, your sister petitioned you. Therefore, the child’s age on the date the petition was filed is not determinative for CSPA eligibility. Instead, the child’s age when the priority date finally became current controls, and you must perform a mathematical computation, to determine if their CSPA age is still under 21.

If a person has questions or issues about their child’s CSPA eligibility, or if they have been denied a visa by the Embassy because the child aged out, they may want to consult with an attorney who can evaluate their case and determine if the child is truly CSPA eligible. The attorney could either assist in processing the child’s case or seek reconsideration from the Embassy of the visa refusal.

* * *

Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 40 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different, and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories,” endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.

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