The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that immigration officials must give precedence to thousands of green card applicants who, when they turned 21, lost their figurative “space in line” for U.S. residency.
In a vote of 6-5, the courts decided that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officials wrongly determined that a number of individuals were no longer eligible for special visas given to green card holders. USCIS made many applicants file new paperwork, which was then placed at the bottom of the large pile of applicants.
Under the Child Status Protection Act, U.S. immigration law mandates that children can immigrate under their parents’ green card applications until the age of 21, at which time each individual will “age out” of the process.
“Congress recognized that many beneficiaries were aging out because of large backlogs and long processing times for visa petitions,” the USCIS website explained. “CSPA is designed to protect a beneficiary’s immigration classification as a child when he or she ages out due to excessive processing times. CSPA can protect “child” status for family-based immigrants, employment-based immigrants, and some humanitarian program immigrants.”
“We conclude that the plain language of the CSPA unambiguously grants automatic conversion and priority date retention to aged-out derivative beneficiaries,” Judge Mary Murguia wrote.
However, not all of the judges agree with this decision. Prior to this case, a trial court judge threw out a class-action lawsuit filed by residents whose children were removed from the residency consideration pool after they turned 21. Further, Judge Milan Smith wrote in a dissenting opinion that he sees CSPA as an ambiguous law, and believes that priority consideration will bump other applicants seeking residency further down the line.
This article is brought to you by Immigration Direct, a trusted resource for matters related to the government’s deferred action program. Take the Free Deferred Action Eligibility Quiz online today.