A new policy update introduced by USCIS last week means children of green card applicants will be further protected from deportation while their parent’s green card application is in process.
Parents who enter the U.S. on temporary work visas and subsequently apply for permanent residence often have to wait years to gain approval due to ongoing processing delays and an ever increasing number of applicants.
Many of these applicants’ children who enter the U.S. as minors can ‘age out’ when they turn 21, while the parent is still waiting for their green card approval – meaning they will have to either apply for a separate visa, remain in the U.S. illegally, or return to their country of birth. The new update aims to protect children from ageing out and losing eligibility to obtain permanent residence – and provides a new method to calculate the child’s age that takes into account when an immigration visa number becomes “available” – effectively classifying affected children as a child even after they’ve turned 21.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin is used to determine when a visa number becomes available and it has two charts – the ‘Dates for Filing’ chart, and the ‘Final Action Date’ chart. Previously, USCIS considered a visa number as “available”, for the purposes of calculating a child’s age, based on the ‘Final Action Date’ chart. Now, USCIS will use the ‘Dates for Filing’ chart instead, which allows children to ‘freeze’ their age at an earlier date.
If these noncitizens are eligible to adjust status because of the change in policy and they have filed for adjustment of status, they will also be eligible to apply for employment and travel authorization based on their pending adjustment of status application, and they generally will not lose previously issued employment or travel authorization.
Non-citizens who were previously denied green cards due to ageing out can also appeal as part of this new ruling.
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