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Have you heard of the Adam Walsh Act pertaining to U.S. citizen petitioners with certain crimes?

Updated: Apr 7, 2023


A little history…


In 2006, Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) that would help protect children from the horrors of sexual abuse and exploitation, among other crimes. This law, under the name of Adam Walsh, was created through a three-tier system where offenders are categorized according to the seriousness of the crime committed. Additionally, a protocol was established to share records and data of sex-offenders at the national level. See more here: (https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/pdf/adam_walsh_act.pdf)


The Adam Walsh Act also modified a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to assist immigrant visa applicants in supporting the family in question. As a result of the amendment, any U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident (LPR) who has been convicted of certain crimes, specifically against minors, will not be able to apply for a visa for any family member.


The Adam Walsh Act and Family-Based Petitions


As we mentioned earlier, U.S. immigration law allows U.S. citizens and LPRs to apply for immigrant visas for certain members of their families who qualify for the process, however, according to the Adam Walsh Act, not all are eligible to file visa applications for their foreign-born family members.


“Due to the enactment of the Adam Walsh Act, U.S. citizens and LPRs who have been convicted of a "specified crime against a minor (a minor refers to any person under the age of 18.)" cannot file a visa application on behalf of a family member or fiancé.” (https://gillinlaw.com/adam-walsh-act-waivers/ )


Specified Offenses under AWA


The list of specific crimes against a minor that make a US citizen or LPR ineligible to file a family-based visa petition includes:

• Crimes involving kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment by a person other than the minor's parent or guardian.

• Soliciting to engage in sexual conduct or engage in prostitution

• Use in sexual performance

• Video voyeurism

• Crimes related to child pornography, including possession, production and distribution

• Criminal sexual conduct with a minor

• Other conduct that constitutes a sexual offense against a minor


Adam Walsh Act Waiver


In order to request an exemption from the Adam Walsh Act, the petitioner must wait for an approval by USCIS where it is determined that there is no risk. The applicant must demonstrate to the USCIS adjudicator that despite the conviction for the crime presented, there is no risk to the beneficiary. For this, a request for evidence can be carried out that includes, but is not limited to:

• Proof of participation in the community or military service

• Rehabilitation and counseling records, including certified documents indicating successful completion of the program and evaluations from licensed professionals certifying rehabilitation.

• Documents related to the trial, such as police reports, court records, news and trial transcripts.


In considering the evidence provided during the no-risk determination, the USCIS adjudicator weighs numerous factors, including:


• Petitioner's criminal record

• Relationship between the beneficiary and the principal

• Age and sex of the beneficiary


When the beneficiary is a child, USCIS automatically presumes that a risk is present. It is extremely difficult for a petitioner to obtain a waiver in this circumstance.


At Mundo Legal we have the experience and legal knowledge to build the strongest waiver needed for Petitioners who are facing obstacles to reuniting with their loved ones.


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