Aging Out in Consular Processing

“Aging out” refers to the potentially precarious situation involving a child who is nearing 21 years of age and is applying for an adjustment of status (AOS) or for an immigrant visa through consular processing. Why is this situation potentially precarious? The reason stems from how the term “child” is defined in U.S. immigration law.

Who’s a child, and why does it matter?

According to federal statute, for purposes of immigration, a “child” is an unmarried person under the age of 21. (There are caveats and nuances to this definition, so for more detailed information, refer to our article on the subject here.)

In many instances, alien children are eligible for immigration benefits for no other reason than being the children of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or the children of a beneficiary of an immigrant petition, whether family-based or employment-based.

In the past, if children reached the age of 21 while their AOS applications or applications for immigrant visas through consular processing were still pending, then they altogether lost eligibility for a green card on the basis of being children beneficiaries. Children who turned 21 before their applications were processed were therefore said to "age out." Aging out meant that they no longer qualified for many of the immigration benefits for which they were eligible before they turned 21 years old.

The Child Status Protection Act

Congress, however, recognized that many potential immigrants were aging out before their petitions could be approved due to long wait times and visa backlogs. In light of this, in 2002, Congress passed the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). The CSPA serves to protect a child beneficiary from aging out because of excessive wait times for visas by “freezing” the child’s age on the date a petition is filed. (There’s much more to the CSPA than that, however. For more information about the “age out” problem and the changes enacted by the CSPA, click here.)

Our Firm is Here to Help

Applying for an immigrant visa through consular processing can be a complex process for most to handle on their own. This is why we recommend you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney about your situation. At Zhang & Associates, our attorneys have decades of experience successfully facilitating consular processing for our foreign-based clients. One of our associates, Sechyi Laiu, spent several years as a consular officer at multiple U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide. Click here to contact our firm for a free consultation today.

For official news and updates on consular processing, click here.

For more detailed information on consular processing, refer to the following links:

Updated 07/31/2017