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October 25, 2010: Can Convicted Felon Petition For Family Member?

Can Convicted Felon Petition For Family Member?

How would I go about helping my girlfriend get a temporary visa or green card, without spending a lot of money? I would like her to come and visit me or come live with me. She is from the Dominican Republic. Will it be a problem that I am a convicted felon?
— Anonymous

Your girlfriend may apply for a visitor visa at the appropriate U.S. Embassy. She will have to prove that she has permanent ties to the Dominican Republic, such as employment, home ownership, children/family, etc. and that she intends to come to the United States for a temporary period to visit.

If you decide to get married to your girlfriend, you may still be able to file a petition on her behalf even though you are a convicted felon. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Adam Walsh Act) provides that a United States citizen who has been convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” is statutorily barred from filing a family-based immigrant petition on behalf of any person, unless it is determined by the Secretary of State that the Petitioner does not pose any threat to the intending beneficiary.

In general, the Adam Walsh Act prevents persons from being petitioners who have been convicted of sex offenses against minors. Thus, depending on what your conviction is for, if you marry your girlfriend, you may still be able to file a petition on her behalf so she can immigrate to the United States and become a lawful permanent resident. It may be wise to consult with an immigration attorney to discuss your criminal history and your options for your girlfriend.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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