August 2, 2006

A new trend has emerged in immigration law that increases the scrutiny of U.S. citizens who submit immigration petitions for family members.  Last year’s International Marriage Brokers Act (IMBRA) and the newly-enacted Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act both require the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services agency to inquire into the criminal history of the U.S. citizen petitioner.  Foreign nationals who would benefit from such immigration petitions have long been submitted to criminal background checks to determine whether or not they should be admitted to the U.S.  Scrutiny of the U.S. citizen petitioner, however, is a new phenomenen rising both from a concern of the safety of the foreign national and from a desire to penalize the U.S. offender.  Under these two laws, U.S. citizens’ names will be checked against a criminal database in search of domestic violence and sexual crimes.  If any history does exist, U.S. citizens will have to provide criminal records and may be required to submit fingerprints.  Once reserved for the foreign national, inquiry into the criminal history of the U.S. citizen is now a necessary element of the immigration analysis.