U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 24, 2023, that it is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how it will apply the extraordinary circumstances exception to the “sought to acquire” requirement under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) in light of a February 14, 2023, policy change updating when an immigrant visa becomes available for the purpose of calculating an applicant’s CSPA age.
USCIS explained that the CSPA protects certain beneficiaries from losing their eligibility for immigrant visas and adjustment of status because they age during the immigration process and no longer qualify as a child for immigration purposes. To benefit from the CSPA, noncitizens must seek to acquire lawful permanent resident status within 1 year of when an immigrant visa becomes available, USCIS noted. The update:
- Explains that USCIS considers the February 14 policy change to be an extraordinary circumstance that may excuse an applicant’s failure to meet the “sought to acquire” requirement;
- Clarifies that the agency may excuse an applicant’s failure to meet the requirement if they did not apply to adjust status because they could not calculate their CSPA age under the prior policy or their CSPA age would have been calculated as over 21, but they are now eligible for CSPA age-out protection under the new policy; and
- Clarifies that the agency considers applicants to have met the requirement if their application to adjust their status was pending on February 14 and they applied to adjust status within one year of a visa becoming available based on the Final Action Dates chart under the policy guidance that was in effect when they applied.
USCIS explained that under the policy guidance in effect before February 14, 2023, some noncitizens may not have applied to adjust status because a visa was not available to calculate their CSPA age under the prior policy or their CSPA age would have been calculated to be over 21 years old. If these noncitizens apply to adjust their status under the new policy issued on February 14, USCIS said, they may not be able to meet the one-year “sought to acquire” requirement. “However, noncitizens who do not meet this requirement may still benefit from the CSPA if they can establish that their failure to meet the requirement was the result of extraordinary circumstances,” USCIS noted.
USCIS said it welcomes feedback on this guidance and will consider any comments received in future updates. Comments can be submitted via the Policy Manual Feedback page.