Washington: A lawsuit has been filed recently in the US district court to protect the rights of Indian-origin children who have ‘aged out’ while their families were in queue for a green card (or lawful permanent residence).
Once these children turn 21, they can no longer continue with their existing H-4 visa, which is meant only for dependents. This is referred to as ‘aging out’. At this juncture, a majority of the children are still studying. The stipulation leaves them with no option, but to obtain a restrictive F-1 visa meant for international students or self-deport to India - a country many have little or no connect with. Further, there is no guarantee that the student will get an F-1visa, which adds to their anguish. Subsequently, post studies, the aged-out child must find an employer willing to sponsor an H-1B work visa, which again has its own challenges.
Even if at a later stage the parent obtains a green card for himself or herself and other dependents (spouse and younger children), the immigration sponsorship process has to begin anew for the aged-out child. Five Indian families have filed a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and all persons similarly placed. The petition seeks to ensure that the provisions of the Child Status Protection Act are applied equally to all children regardless of the nation of origin of their parents. CSPA was introduced in 2002, to prevent minor children from ‘aging out’ when they reach 21 years of age and losing eligibility to obtain a lawful permanent resident together with their parents. In simple terms, CSPA permits some individuals to remain classified as ‘children’ beyond their 21st birthday. It is based on a computation formula.
The submission filed with the court points out that presently children whose parents are born in India are not protected from aging out, owing to the decades-long queue for a green card and the fact that age computations for CSPA are based on national origin-based India visa bulletin. On the other hand, children from several other nationalities remain protected.