I'm the child of an asylee, turning 21 soon -- will CSPA help me stay eligible?

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Question:

I’m 20 years old and will turn 21 in a few months. My mom was granted U.S. asylum last year but she didn’t include me in her application. I’m still living in Iran. She recently filed an I-730 petition for me to join her in the U.S., but I heard that I won’t be considered a “child” under U.S. immigration law after I turn 21! Will I still be able to come to the United States if my application is not approved before I turn 21?

Answer:

If you are unmarried, you are protected by the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) and will still be eligible to join your mother as the immediate relative of an asylee because she filed a relative petition for you before you turned 21. The CSPA became effective for all immigrant petitions filed on or after August 6, 2002, and the children of refugees and asylees can benefit from this law that prevents children from “aging out” while their applications are pending.

You are considered a “child” for U.S. immigration purposes if you are unmarried and under age 21. Thanks to the CSPA, as long as your parent filed Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Petition for you before your 21st birthday, you will still be eligible to come to the U.S. as a “following to join” immediate relative of an asylee even if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) doesn’t approve your application until you are over age 21. Keep in mind that even after you receive the I-730 approval notice, you must continue be unmarried at the time you use your visa to enter the United States in order to qualify as a derivative asylee.

In addition, the CSPA will also protect derivative asylees after I-730 approval, during the admission process at the U.S. border, and if they want to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident one year after their arrival to the United States.

For more information on your rights after a grant of asylum, see Nolo’s series of articles on the topic at “After a Grant of Asylum or Refugee Status: What’s Next.”

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