Written by attorney Nicklaus James Misiti

Immigration and Adam Walsh Act FAQ by Nicklaus Misiti

What is the Adam Walsh Act and how does it affect immigration?

The Adam Walsh Act (“AWA") is a fairly recent law designed to protect children from sex offenders. Its affect on immigration law is to bar a US citizen from petitioning to bring any foreign relatives to the US.

Does the AWA only bar US citizens from petitioning for minors?

The AWA bars US citizens from petitioning for any relative, including adults. It is a bar to petitioning for a parent, spouse, or child.

What can be done if a US citizen is barred from petitioning for a relative due to the AWA?

There is a waiver to the AWA bar, which requires a showing that the petitioner is not a threat to the beneficiary.

Is the waiver impossible to obtain?

Many clients call us for consultations and express a feeling that the AWA waiver is impossible to obtain. We do not know where they obtained such information because in our experience it is not true. We have won a number of AWA cases and can say with certainty it is not impossible to obtain. Also, the adjudications of these petitions has become much more consistent since USCIS designated the Vermont Service Center to handle all such waivers.

Do I need an attorney or can I file this myself?

There is no law stating that you need an attorney, however, the chances of being approved without one are slim. The AWA waiver is a “discretionary" decision, which is “unreviewable." This means that any mistakes made in the filing can result in a denial.

What if I receive a Notice of Intent to Deny?

This is a sign you need an attorney. If you are working with an attorney and receive this, it is not necessarily a sign they are doing a bad job. USCIS may just require more information from you. However, if your attorney never spoke of AWA with you and seems surprised by the NOID, it may mean they are not experienced with the AWA. The AWA is a relatively new law and not many attorneys are experienced with it. It is always best to work with an attorney experienced in AWA waivers.

What if my AWA waiver is denied?

Although it is “unreviewable," in certain cases it may be appealed. Our firm won an appeal on this type of case by successfully arguing the conviction did not fall under the AWA. However, the circumstances are rare where an appeal will be useful. In most cases the request should be refiled, but properly prepared by an experienced atorney.

What does it cost?

The AWA waiver must be filed with an I-130 or a fiancé visa. There is no filing fee for the AWA waiver and the filing fee for the I-130 is $420 or $340 for the fiancé visa. Our firm charges attorney fees of $3500 for the waiver request, however, these fees are subject to change and are dependent upon the facts of your case. We also offer payment plans.

What should I do if I need an AWA waiver?

Feel free to contact our firm, we offer free telephonic consultations. You can contact us at 212 537 4407 or fill out the form on our website,

Additional resources provided by the author

Nicklaus Misiti, Esq. is chief attorney of the immigration firm Misiti Global, PLLC. His firm handles criminal immigration matters throughout the US and has successfully resolved AWA related immigration issue for multiple clients. To schedule a free case evaluation you can reach him at 212 537 4407 or fill out the form on his website

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