Let me begin by saying this. The Child Status Protection Act is one of the most difficult areas of the law pertaining to adjustment of status. Enacted in 2002, it provides relief to children who turn 21 essentially because of government delays in processing cases.
That one of the "biggest" and apparently most "successful" law firms couldn't even convince the government to accept the case for filing is somewhat understandable as the "volume" law firms as I describe them, don't take the time to understand the law or explain it to you. After all, your paralegal is not your lawyer and even if s/he was, they are not allowed to give you legal advice. That this same firm kept telling its former clients that they were "trying" to get the case approved, while at the same time failing to inform them that the case was rejected was baffling. That this same group of lawyers gave up was inexcusable.
Luckily, the mother and son, who were clients of mine prior to starting my own firm several years back, were able to track me down through the State Bar of California. By the way, if you're ever looking to find a lawyer that's a member of the State Bar of California, go to www.calbar.ca.gov or any other state's bar website.
In any event, here's what happened. Mother and son entered the United States over 10 years ago. They overstayed. Both were protected under section 245i-allowed to get green cards in the United States even though out of status-because mom's father (kid's grandfather) filed a family based petition. So you know, children are protected under section 245i if their parents are. So to are spouses; even if the marriage occurred after the filing of the petition so long as it occurred prior to the green card being issued.
Mom gets arrested because she was working illegally. I get the immigration judge to set bail. Bail is posted and she's out. Her son was never in proceedings. Immigration ultimately approves her father's petition and the priority date becomes current. I posture the case of adjustment of status before the immigration court in Los Angeles and mom's case is approved. Meaning: mom's application for permanent residence was granted and she gets her green card. But, her son, had already turned 21. Now what?
Because her son was never in proceedings, his application is to be filed with Department of Homeland Security. Filing procedures changed in the interim and all family based applications, no matter where one resides, are to be filed in Chicago. Long story short, I'm retained (again) and don't stop until the case is accepted for filing.
Within 45 days after it was filed, my client obtained work authorization. Within 4 months after the application was filed, my client was interviewed for his green card. When the officer-a very friendly and thorough gentlemen-called our case, the first thing he said was "You can't do this. The child is over 21 and the priority date is not current." Two hours later, after sitting with him and his equally wonderful supervisor, everyone agreed that the case was approvable. Now, when my client's fingerprint clearance comes back, he will receive his green card.
The Child Status Protection Act is tricky. It does not apply retroactively. And, even when it does "apply", a complicated analysis must be performed to determine whether or not the application of the act will actually benefit the client. Said analysis must be performed by a competent lawyer. And, competency requires both the ability to educate oneself, but perhaps more importantly, to be able to explain the situation to you (the client) and last but definitely not least, the government.