New Orleans

Family-based Immigration Attorneys

New Orleans

Family-based Immigration Attorneys

new orleans family based immigration attorneys - pelton balducci

At Pelton + Balducci, we believe that families should be together.

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to identify the quickest and least stressful way for our clients to reunite with their family members.

At Pelton + Balducci, we believe that families should be together.

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to identify the quickest and least stressful way for our clients to reunite with their family members.

Each family-based immigration case is different, and we carefully analyze every client’s situation to chart the best path forward, always with an eye towards expediency and minimizing risk for our clients.

We understand the hardship that comes with being separated from loved ones, as well as the stress that is inherent in the immigration process.
We understand the importance of keeping our clients informed about their case status each step of the way, and we are happy to answer any questions that may arise during the process.
“The Pelton + Balducci office was amazing! They made this entire immigration process so easy and painless. We felt so comfortable when we met Marco that we knew that we wanted him to assist and represent us during what was a milestone for us as a married couple. Marco was with us every step of the way. My wife and I are very fortunate to have made a great choice with Pelton + Balducci.”
- Nhut D.
We understand the hardship that comes with being separated from loved ones, as well as the stress that is inherent in the immigration process.
We understand the importance of keeping our clients informed about their case status each step of the way, and we are happy to answer any questions that may arise during the process.
“The Pelton + Balducci office was amazing! They made this entire immigration process so easy and painless. We felt so comfortable when we met Marco that we knew that we wanted him to assist and represent us during what was a milestone for us as a married couple. Marco was with us every step of the way. My wife and I are very fortunate to have made a great choice with Pelton + Balducci.”
- Nhut D.

Family Immigration Cases

There are two major categories for family-based immigration: immediate relatives and family preference categories.

Immediate relatives include spouses, parents, and any unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens, and USCIS grants unlimited immigrant visas for this category of relatives annually.

However, family preference immigrant visas are different. These types of visas include:

  • Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents
  • Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens
  • Married children of U.S. citizens
  • Adult children of U.S. citizens

As many as 226,000 family-based green cards can be issued to applicants from different countries every year.

However, each year there are many more people who want to be reunited with their families, and there is often a long wait for visa availability for applicants in these categories.

In addition, there is a 7 percent cap annually for family visas that can be issued for each country, adding more challenges for individuals from so-called “oversubscribed” countries.

Depending on all of these factors, it can take years, and sometimes even decades, for a visa to become available for eligible family members.

There are generally two main routes used to pursue lawful residence through family: Adjustment of Status inside the United States or Consular Processing an immigrant visa abroad.

Marriage-based Immigration Cases

Marriage-based immigration petitions are one of the most common types of petitions filed.

Marriage-based petitions also face a higher level of scrutiny by the USCIS or another government adjudicator because immigration law requires that the marriage underlying the petition be “bona fide.” This means that the marriage must have been entered into for truthful reasons — not merely for the purpose of the “beneficiary,” or applicant, obtaining an immigration benefit (lawful permanent resident status, relief from removal, etc.).

It should be noted that allegations of marriage fraud are very serious and can prevent an individual from ever becoming a lawful resident and, if the allegations of fraud are substantiated, can also lead to criminal prosecution.

Practically speaking, it is important to submit evidence of the bona fide nature of the marriage in support of the I-130 Petition, if at all possible. Evidence of children born to or adopted by the couple is one of the strongest types of evidence to establish that the marriage is genuine.

In the absence of children, other evidence should generally include:

  • Evidence of the couple’s cohabitation
  • Evidence of the couple’s financial commingling of assets and debts
  • Filing of joint taxes

Any evidence that demonstrates the bona fide nature of a marriage can be used, and there is not one specific item that is required in all cases. Rather, it is the totality of the evidence and the couple’s particular circumstances that will be considered when determining whether the marriage is bona fide.

If a marriage-based case is approved prior to the second marriage anniversary between the petitioner and beneficiary, then the lawful resident status given to the beneficiary will be conditional and valid for two years only. In this case, the beneficiary is required to file an I-751 Petition to Remove the Condition on Residence in order to apply for the permanent resident status within 90 days of the expiration of the two-year conditional resident status.

If the petitioner and beneficiary are still together as a couple, then the I-751 Petition may be filed jointly, along with evidence of the ongoing relationship. If, however, the couple has separated or divorced, or the petitioner has died, then the beneficiary must file the I-751 Waiver of Joint Petition. (There is also a waiver petition option if the beneficiary has been abused by the petitioner.)

Failure to file the I-751 following expiration of the two-year conditional resident status results in the beneficiary’s resident status being terminated, thereby subjecting the beneficiary to the risk of removal proceedings.

Timely filing the I-751 Petition either jointly or as a waiver petition is critical to maintaining lawful status after the conditional resident status grant. It is also very important to file the I-751 upon the correct basis, in order for the petition to be properly and timely adjudicated.

K-1 Fiancé Visas

Another option many U.S. citizens use when seeking to bring their partner to the U.S. is the K-1 fiancé visa. (Of course, this is only an option if the couple is not yet married.)

Once the foreign national fiancé is admitted to the U.S., they are allowed to reside and work as long as the couple marries within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival. At that point, the couple can apply for the immigrating spouse’s permanent resident status.

There are some requirements that the applicant and their partner have to meet, however. These include:

  • The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Both the petitioner and their foreign fiancé are free to legally marry
  • The couple met in person within the past two years.
  • Both parties have intentions to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.
  • The petitioner meets the minimum income/financial requirement.
  • The applicant (foreign fiancé) is not inadmissible to the U.S.

While typically shorter than the marriage visa process, the K-1 visa process also requires a hefty amount of paperwork, a medical examination for the foreign applicant, and an interview in the applicant’s home country.

With all of this in mind, our team at Pelton + Balducci use our years of experience with family-based and K-1 visa experience to navigate the process with our clients.

How Pelton + Balducci Can Help

At Pelton + Balducci, our goal is to carefully analyze your situation and map out the strategy with the highest chance of success.

Whether this means helping your spouse naturalize so that you have a faster path to permanent residency, or re-filing a petition that was previously denied—our goals are your goals.

We pride ourselves on our ability to listen and communicate with our clients clearly and fully, and we hold ourselves to the highest legal, ethical, and professional standards.

Some cases present multiple paths to proceed, and we will help you understand the pros and cons of each approach, so that you can make the best decision for you and your family. We are grateful for the opportunity to explore the options with you, no matter where you are in the process.

Whether we are helping a U.S. citizen bring their spouse to the U.S., or helping reunite family members who have been separated for decades, we are proud to help families stay together.

At Pelton + Balducci, our goal is to carefully analyze your situation and map out the strategy with the highest chance of success.

Whether this means helping your spouse naturalize so that you have a faster path to permanent residency, or re-filing a petition that was previously denied—our goals are your goals.

We pride ourselves on our ability to listen and communicate with our clients clearly and fully, and we hold ourselves to the highest legal, ethical, and professional standards.

Some cases present multiple paths to proceed, and we will help you understand the pros and cons of each approach, so that you can make the best decision for you and your family. We are grateful for the opportunity to explore the options with you, no matter where you are in the process.

Whether we are helping a U.S. citizen bring their spouse to the U.S., or helping reunite family members who have been separated for decades, we are proud to help families stay together.

Schedule your consultation with our New Orleans immigration attorneys

With backgrounds in both the private and nonprofit sectors, our firm grew from a passion for serving the immigrant community and their family members in the Greater New Orleans area. Bringing more than 50 years of combined experience to each case, our entire team is also fluent in Spanish.

To get started with your family immigration process, or to learn more about how we can help, schedule your consultation today. Call us directly at (504) 708-5400 or fill out our contact form online.

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