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How does the Child Status Protection Act affect grown children?

Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the immigrant children of American citizens and lawful permanent residents are given higher priority than many others. If you read the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, you’ll note, for example, that unmarried, adult children of U.S. citizens are listed as first-preference immigrants. Minor children with a U.S.-citizen parent who live abroad, however, have traditionally been granted even greater preference.

Unfortunately, backlogs at the USCIS grew to be so long that many minor children reached the age of 21 before their childhood petitions were processed. To alleviate that and several other injustices, the Child Status Protection Act, or CSPA, was added as an amendment to the INA.

After Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda last fall, however, the USCIS developed an enormous new backlog for people seeking to come to the U.S. from the Philippines. By the end of the year, a curious thing happened -- among Filipinos, the waiting list for adult children of U.S. citizens grew much longer than the waiting list for adult children of green-card holders.

That unusual situation prompted one man two write in to the Citizenship NOW project for advice. Already a lawful permanent resident, he expects to become a U.S. citizen in 2016. Considering the customary preference for the children of citizens, he had thought it would be more favorable to wait until he was a citizen to petition for his son. With the waiting list so long for the children of citizens, however, he began to wonder whether it might actually be better to petition under his green card.

It’s an unusual situation, but the answer is pretty straightforward, according to the director of City University of New York's Citizenship NOW project. The CSPA gives the sons and daughters of either citizens or green card holders to choose whichever line is shortest.

It’s an unusual situation, but much of U.S immigration law is more complex than it might appear from reading brochures or website pages. Whether you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, if you have family members who want to immigrate to the United States, you should contact a licensed immigration lawyer who can help you fully understand all the possibilities for family immigration.

Source: New York Daily News Citizenship NOW! blog, “Permanent resident father need not wait to naturalize to petition for a visa for his son,” Allan Wernick, Dec. 26, 2013

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