The Adam Walsh Act and Juvenile Convictions
The Adam Walsh Act (AWA) was passed in 2006 and imposes immigration penalties on U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are convicted of certain “specified crimes against minors.” A USC 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.
“Specified offense against a minor” is defined as an offense against a victim who has not attained the age of 18 which involves the following acts:
- An offense involving kidnapping, unless committed by a parent or guardian;
- An offense involving false imprisonment, unless committed by a parent or guardian;
- Solicitation to engage in sexual conduct;
- Use in sexual performance;
- Solicitation to practice prostitution;
- Video voyeurism as described in 18 USC § 1801;
- Possession, production, or distribution of child pornography;
- Criminal sexual conduct involved a minor, or the use of the Internet to facilitate or attempt this conduct;
- Any conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor. This section is further defines at section 111(5)(A)
Certain serious juvenile delinquency dispositions will be considered convictions for this purpose. Whereas the Immigration and Nationality Act does not count juvenile adjudications for immigration purposes, section 111(a) of the AWA includes juvenile delinquency adjudications if two criteria are met: (1) the offender is 14 years or older at the time of the offense; and (2) the offense was the same as or more severe than aggravated sexual abuse described in 18 USC § 2241 or was an attempt or conspiracy to commit such an offense.
In sum, a juvenile conviction for one of the aforementioned specified offenses may not prevent you from filing a visa petition on behalf of your loved ones. However, you will be required to disclose your juvenile convictions even if they are under seal. Therefore, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney to analyze your criminal history and prepare a detailed legal brief to use when submitting your petition.