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What is the Adam Walsh Act? How can the Adam Walsh Act limit the immigration rights of a U.S. Citizen or Green Card Holder?

By April 10, 2019March 16th, 2021Family Immigration, Immigration
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Form I-130 is an immigration form submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) by a U.S. citizen or Green card holder who wants to get a green card for an immediate or close relative.   I-130’s can be used for spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Under normal circumstances, the scrutiny related to the approval of the petition will be on the person applying for the green card and their background and history. The U.S. citizen or green card holder though would normally only have to prove their status, relationship to the alien relative, and on occasions that they can financially support the applicant. Under the Adam Walsh Act, the scrutiny turns to the U.S. citizen or green card holder (the petitioner) and asks key questions as to whether that person should have the ability to sponsor a relative.

What is the Adam Walsh Act?

Adam Walsh was a 7-year-old boy who was abducted from a mall in Florida in 1981 and raped and murdered. His murderer was found to be a serial killer with a history of kidnapping, arson, and murder. The Adam Walsh Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. Also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, the Adam Walsh Act organized sex offenders into three tiers depending on their crimes committed and registered them into a national registry. Tier 3 offenders (the most serious tier) must update their whereabouts every three months with lifetime registration requirements. Tier 2 offenders must update their whereabouts every six months with 25 years of registration, and Tier 1 offenders must update their whereabouts every year with 15 years of registration. Failure to register and update information is a felony under the law. States are required to publicly disclose information of Tier 2 and Tier 3 offenders, at minimum.

What is the Impact on Immigration of the Adam Walsh Act?

The legislation limits immigration benefits for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are convicted of certain crimes against minors. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” may be prevented from filing a visa petition on behalf of a close family member. A full list of crimes that are included under this Act is as follows:

(A) an offense involving kidnapping, unless committed by a parent or guardian;

(B) an offense involving false imprisonment, unless committed by a parent or guardian;

(C) solicitation to engage in sexual conduct;

(D) use in sexual performance;

(E) solicitation to practice prostitution;

(F) video voyeurism as described in 18 USC § 1801;

(G) possession, production, or distribution of child pornography;

(H) criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, or the use of the Internet to facilitate or

attempt this conduct;

(I) any conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor.

It should be noted that this Act impacts the application regardless of what the relationship between the petitioner and the applicant is and does not take into consideration whether or not a dependent child is also applying with the applicant.

How it Works

When an I-130 application is submitted, USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security run the U.S. petitioner’s name through the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS). Managed by CBP, IBIS is a database of lookouts, wants, warrants, arrests, and convictions consolidated from over 20 agencies. If the petitioner’s name appears in the system and is shown to have had prior convictions of sex and other certain crimes against minors, DHS has the right to take away immigration benefits from the petitioner and deny the application. This is not limited to petitioners who were adults during the time of their conviction, and the same rules apply to juvenile delinquents (ages between 14 to 17) who are found to have committed a crime against a minor that is as severe or more severe than aggravated sexual abuse.

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