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Matter of Tatiana Aceijas-Quiroz

In  Matter of Tatiana Aceijas-Quiroz, USCIS denied the U.S. citizen petitioner's immigrant petition for his wife.  This the first of three Board of Immigration Appeals decisions issued on May 20, 2014, that concern the immigration consequences of convictions for U.S. citizens.  Under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 ("Adam Walsh Act"), certain convictions will disqualify a citizen from petitioning for an immigrant family member.

USCIS found, and the petitioner did not dispute, that his prior convictions for sexual abuse and for contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor were "specified offenses against a minor" under the Adam Walsh Act.  He therefore was ineligible to petition for his wife unless he could demonstrate that despite those convictions he posed "no risk" to her.  USCIS denied the petition because it was not satisfied that he posed no risk to her.  In doing so, it required him to show "beyond a reasonable doubt" that he posed no risk.  This standard, which typically does not apply in civil immigration proceedings, does not appear in the statute or regulations.  It was imposed by USCIS memo.

The petitioner appealed to the Board, arguing that the heightened beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof should not apply.  The Board, however, determined that it did not have jurisdiction to review the question because it found the Adam Walsh Act gave USCIS sole authority to determine whether a petitioner posed no risk to a beneficiary and that includes sole authority to determine the standard of proof for that issue.