Little-known immigration rule requires Green Card renewal on child’s 14th birthday

Attorney Caroly Pedersen- Weston, Florida


Immigration regulations can be obscure, seem mysterious and are often complicated. So, it’s nice to come across a rule which is actually beneficial and saves you money! Under a little-known law, once a U.S. Resident child turns age 14, a Green Card renewal must be filed within 30 days. This special requirement exists because children under age 14 are exempt from the fingerprinting, so once a child reaches age 14, he or she must provide biometrics (fingerprints) as part of the renewal process. However, in practice, most parents do not follow the rule to renew their children’s Green Cards and no penalty is applied by the USCIS for failure to do so.

But what if there were a benefit to filing a renewal on your child’s 14th birthday? Well there is ….to a lucky few!  

The USCIS actually waives the application fee for Green Card renewal applications filed for children within 30 days of their 14th birthday, as long as the child’s Green Card will expire after the child turns age 16. Strange, but true. The catch is that there is only a very short 30 day period in which the renewal can be filed without paying the USCIS filing fee and those exact requirements must be met. For instance, if a child is turning age 14, but their Green Card expires when the child is 15, the filing fee would not be waived. Similarly, if the child has turned age 14 and you filed after 30 days, the fee is not waived. In all cases the biometrics fee of $85 must still be paid, but you will still be saving $455 for the regular renewal fee. Good to know! You can get a link to filing the I-90 renewal by visiting our website at:  and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link.

Reminder – Medical examinations must be submitted within 60-days of issuance to be valid

Late last year the USCIS announced a policy change for the medical examination required for Residency cases. Since November 1, 2018, medical examinations (form I-693) are valid for two years from the date signed by the doctor. However, the new policy also added a restriction on validity of the exam prior to submission, requiring that medical exams be submitted to the USCIS within 60 days of issuance (signature date).

Medical exams submitted later than 60 days from the date of issuance are rejected. As a result, these days, it’s always best to have the medical exam performed just prior to residency case submission (the last thing on your check-off list).

The change in policy is due in part to extremely lengthy USCIS residency case processing, often taking from one to two years in some cases. Under the prior policy, medical exams were only valid for one year, which routinely required residency applicants to obtain a new medical exam to take to their scheduled residency interview. It’s important to note that Residency applicants who receive interview notices should always check the edition date on their previously submitted medical exam, to ensure that it has the date of 10/19/17, since as of January 2, 2018, that is the only edition the USCIS will accept.

Medicals with any prior dates will have to be updated. What that means is that if an applicant attends his or her immigration interview and the medical exam previously submitted has an early edition date, the officer will require that a new medical be submitted and issue a written request. This may not seem very consequential, but in fact, it can be the difference between receiving the Green Card in a week, vs three+ months, since once the updated medical is submitted, it can then take some 30-60 days or more for the case to be approved. The way to avoid this is to have your medical updated and take the new medical with you to the interview in a sealed envelope. That way, the case can be approved the same day!

To appeal or not to appeal, That is the question!

As most are aware, immigration application denials are much more common these days than in the past and are often issued without even allowing an applicant the chance to provide additional evidence to prove eligibility. Even worse, most applicants receiving denials who have fallen out of legal immigration status, are now also at risk for deportation under the new NTA rule. As a result, it’s important to understand the options available once a case is denied and whether filing for review is appropriate.

Under the new NTA rule, the USCIS will hold off on issuing a deportation notice for at least 33 days, giving the applicant a chance to file a motion or appeal (for review). If the applicant files for review, the USCIS will not take any further action until the review process is complete. This provides applicants with the opportunity to file a motion or appeal and wait for a decision, which can take 3 to 12 months depending upon the case type, buying some precious time before the issuance of an NTA.

Appeal within 33-days

Many types of immigration case denials can be appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 33 days, and those which cannot, can still be requested for review or reconsideration. And with so much on the line, it’s important to know the difference between the options for review and what they require.

Basis for appeal

An appeal is based upon the argument that the denial was based upon either an error in the application of the law or the officer’s interpretation of law to the facts of a case. A motion can either be requested to reopen a case, based upon new facts or documents not available to have been previously submitted with the original application or to reconsider the case, due to the USCIS having misapplied or misinterpreted the law and/or facts of the case or both.


For practical purposes, filing an appeal or request for review or reconsideration does not mean that it will be approved, and the USCIS filing fee is $675. But, given the current risks involved in USCIS denials and deportation, the risk may be well worth it, particularly in cases where an applicant is clearly eligible, but did not provide adequate documentation with the immigration application, or provided requested information after the USCIS deadline (with a reasonable explanation) which can now be provided.

Ironically, when an appeal or motion is filed, it’s frequently the same USCIS officer who originally denied the case, that gets to review or reconsider the case and either affirm the original denial or reverse it and approve the case. In an appeal case, if the USCIS officer decides not to approve the case, the appeal will automatically be sent to the AAO or BIA for a final decision.

For motions, the officer’s decision not to reopen or reconsider is final. Ultimately, the filing of an appeal or motion is important and should be well prepared and properly submitted. As a result, it often best to seek immigration advice from a qualified attorney regarding eligibility for any immigration application BEFORE filing and if denied, guidance on whether or not to proceed with an appeal or motion. You can get free information about filing Appeals and Motions by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.



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