Question: I am in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa. My husband is a U.S. citizen. He is planning on applying for a green card for me, but he has a criminal record. What kind of crimes would disqualify my U.S. citizen spouse from applying for my green card?
Answer: A U.S. citizen may apply for a green card for the following family members:
- spouse or fiancé(e),
- parents, and
Most crimes committed by a U.S. citizen will not result in the denial of a green card application for a family member. However, certain crimes against minors will disqualify a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident from applying for a foreign relative’s green card.
The Adam Walsh Act
The “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act” is a federal law enacted in 2006 that imposes immigration penalties on U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are convicted of certain crimes against minors. Pursuant to the act, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” may be barred from filing an immigration petition on behalf of a foreign relative.
What is a specified offense against a minor?
The Adam Walsh Act prohibits a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is convicted of the following offenses against a victim under 18 years of age from applying for a foreign relative’s green card:
- an offense involving kidnapping, unless it is committed by a guardian or parent;
- an offense involving false imprisonment, unless it is committed by a guardian or parent;
- solicitation to engage in sexual conduct;
- video voyeurism;
- use of a minor in sexual performance;
- solicitation to practice prostitution;
- possession, distribution, or production of child pornography;
- criminal sexual conduct involving a minor,
- using the Internet to facilitate or attempt sexual conduct with a minor; and
- any conduct that is a sex offense against a minor.
Adam Walsh Act Waiver
A U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has committed one of the above offenses may apply for a waiver to secure lawful immigrant status for a family member. If a petitioner applies for a waiver under the Adam Walsh Act, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct what is called a no-risk determination. This process requires the petitioner to demonstrate to the USCIS adjudicator that he or she poses no risk to the beneficiary despite the conviction. The petitioner may support his or her claim by submitting evidence to USCIS. Examples of the types of evidence a petitioner may submit to USCIS include:
- proof of involvement in the community or military service;
- records of counseling and rehabilitation; and
- documents relating to the trial, such as court records, police reports, news accounts, and trial transcripts.
When considering whether to grant a waiver request during a no-risk determination, USCIS will weigh numerous factors, including:
- the petitioner’s criminal history,
- the gender and age of the beneficiary, and
- the relationship between the beneficiary and the principal.
ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.