When Does a Child’s Age Freeze Under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) in Consular Processing?

Understanding the nuances of immigration law, particularly when it involves the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), can be a complex endeavor. This blog aims to demystify one crucial aspect of the CSPA: when a child’s age “freezes” for cases that are consular processed. This is an essential piece of information for families navigating the immigration system, as it impacts whether a child is considered a minor for immigration purposes.

What is the CSPA?

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was enacted to protect the immigration benefits of children who might age out, or turn 21, during the often-lengthy immigration process. Under U.S. immigration law, children who reach the age of 21 generally “age out” and lose their eligibility to immigrate as derivatives of their parents’ immigration applications. The CSPA provides a method to calculate a child’s age that considers immigration processing delays, potentially allowing the child to retain eligibility under a parent’s immigration petition.

Consular Processing and the CSPA

Consular processing refers to the procedure of applying for an immigrant visa through a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the United States. For cases undergoing consular processing, the CSPA offers a specific formula to determine whether an applicant’s age can be considered under 21 at the time of visa adjudication, effectively “freezing” the age.

Key Steps to Freeze a Child’s Age

Under the CSPA, a child’s age can freeze when certain conditions are met during the consular processing phase. These conditions are tied to the “Dates for Filing” (also known as Chart B) of the Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State. The Visa Bulletin provides two crucial dates: the Dates for Filing and the Final Action Dates. The Dates for Filing indicate when applicants can start preparing and submitting their documents to the National Visa Center (NVC), even before a visa becomes available.

To freeze a child’s age under the CSPA, families must take one of the following actions while their case is current according to the Dates for Filing:

  1. Paying the Affidavit of Support fee: This fee is required to process the Affidavit of Support, a document that proves the financial stability of the sponsor.
  2. Paying the Immigrant Visa fee: This fee is associated with processing the actual immigrant visa application.
  3. Completing and submitting Form DS-260 online: This is the primary application form for those seeking to immigrate to the U.S.
  4. Submitting a completed, signed Affidavit of Support: This document must list the applicant in question and be sent to the NVC.
  5. Filing an I-824 on behalf of the applicant: This action involves a request to USCIS to forward an approved petition to a U.S. consulate or embassy.

Taking any of these actions effectively seeks to acquire the status of a lawful permanent resident for the child based on the parent’s petition. The child’s CSPA age freezes on the date the case becomes current by the Final Action Date (Chart A), provided one of the above actions was taken while the case was current per Chart B.

Importance of Timing

It’s crucial for families to act swiftly once their case becomes current according to the Dates for Filing. By promptly paying the necessary fees, completing, and submitting the required forms and documents to the NVC, they can ensure that their child’s age is locked in for immigration purposes, even if the actual visa becomes available after the child turns 21.

Consulting with an Immigration Attorney

Given the complexity of immigration laws and the potential consequences of missing critical deadlines, consulting with an experienced immigration attorney is highly recommended. An attorney can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation, ensuring that you take the necessary steps to benefit from the CSPA.


The Child Status Protection Act offers a lifeline for families concerned about their child aging out during the immigration process. By understanding and acting upon the key steps required under the CSPA, families can navigate the consular processing pathway more confidently, securing their child’s eligibility for immigration benefits. Remember, the key is prompt action and meticulous adherence to the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State and USCIS.