Young immigrants have been in the news recently for going to extremes to enter and stay in the United States. But acquiring U.S. permanent residency is more challenging than ever. Those who have made it to America and are currently waiting for visas may have to wait a little longer. A recent Supreme Court ruling will require a majority of underage immigrants to start the visa approval process all over again when they turn 21.
The Supreme Court case involved immigrants seeking permanent status under a family preference provision. Many of these young people "age out" before their visas get approved due to the lengthy approval process and get reassigned to the adults-only category. The Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether these immigrants have the right to appeal the agency's order. The Supreme Court appeal stemmed from a Salvadoran immigrant who applied for visas on behalf of her teenage son who "aged out" and was forced to start the process all over again.
The court found the language in the immigration application rules to be ambiguous. In most cases, when there is ambiguity, courts will defer to the agency's interpretation. With a 5-4 vote, the majority of the justices agreed with the Obama administration and found that the Board of Immigration Appeals' interpretation of language in the immigration application rules was reasonable.
Based on the court's ruling, only a few visa applicants would be eligible under the Child Status Protection Act, which allows youths to keep their priority underage status throughout the immigration process. While many oppose the Court's decision, as it stands now, young people may face some difficulties when trying to become permanent residents in the U.S.
Source: CNN, "Supreme Court setback for underage visa applicants," Bill Mears, June 9, 2014