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Adam Walsh Act Cases: A Challenge, But There Is Hope

President George W. Bush signed into law the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA), which amended §§101(a), 204(a)(1)(A) and 204(a)(1)(B)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) to prohibit United States citizen or permanent resident petitioners convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” from filing a relative petition for any beneficiary. The only exception is if the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) determines in his or her “sole and unreviewable discretion” that there is no risk of harm to the beneficiary or derivative beneficiary.

As an Austin immigration attorney, I am well aware of how challenging these cases can be to win. Often, clients come to my office after their case has been denied by immigration and frequently I am the last stop before they give up trying to get the case approved.

This post is meant to provide general guidance for Adam Walsh immigration cases from the perspective of an Austin immigration attorney. Above all, I encourage you not to give up. The right lawyer makes a huge difference in the approval rates of these cases. Adam Walsh petitions require a legal brief and legal analysis to be written using case law to back up the arguments. These petitions require affidavits and letters of reference from several resources. Adam Walsh petitions are indeed very complex, time-consuming, and lengthy cases. Despite all of that, these cases can be successful if you hire a lawyer who has experience and is willing to dedicate the time and effort to fight for your case. With most clients that come to see me, they have very limited options. Often times, an individual has a sexual assault charge that is 10 + years old, later in life marries, has children, and if the spouse is born abroad, USCIS (immigration) can create considerable obstacles for the family to be able to live within U.S. borders. It is ironic that a law that is meant to protect people can in some cases cause more harm than good. For example, we recently had a client who was charged with sexual assault of a minor because when he was 18, he had consensual sex with his girlfriend, who was 17 at the time. When the girlfriend’s parents found out that their seventeen year old was sexually involved with our client, they called the police and he was charged with sexual assault of a minor. Thirteen years later, when he was thirty-one years old, he met and fell in love with a foreign national. They were married and had three daughters. The Adam Walsh Act prevented this client from being successful in the filing of a relative petition for his wife (without a legal brief and considerable fight). The same law that is meant to protect in this case, failed to protect this family that wanted to be together in the United States.

One of the most difficult tasks in an Adam Walsh case is that the Petitioner must prove that he or she will not pose any harm to the beneficiary. This is oftentimes more difficult to do than what it sounds and requires proof that the Petitioner has been rehabilitated. This can be accomplished by showing and submitting records, such as evaluations by mental health professionals and affidavits from friends, family, and the beneficiary. The standard used by the USCIS adjudicator is “beyond a reasonable doubt” and if this standard is not met, the Adjudicator must deny the case.


If you need legal help with an immigration case, call our law office at (512) 329-2770. We have experience handling even the most challenging cases. The immigration attorney in our law firm is bi-lingual, responsive, and easy to talk to. Do not cause further delays to your case — Call us. We are ready to help.