Family Immigration

New Orleans Family Immigration Lawyers

Helping New Orleans and Slidell families reconnect with their loved ones

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Once a foreign national obtains permanent legal residency in the United States, it’s only natural that that person will want to help his/her family immigrate to America too. Or perhaps you met someone overseas and fell in love, and now you’re ready to come home and start your new life. In either scenario, there are steps you must take to ensure that your family can come to and stay in America.

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, our family-based immigration lawyers in New Orleans and Slidell help people across South Louisiana. We’re skilled and respected for our understanding of the laws that regulate family immigration, for the documentation you’ll need to ensure your application has the best chance for approval, and for expediting your visa application as quickly as possible.

What are the different types of family immigration visas?

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If your spouse, child, parent, or another relative lives in a foreign country and wants to live in the United States permanently, they’ll need to obtain a family-based immigrant visa. There are two types of family immigrant visas according to the US State Department.

The first type is for immediate relatives – a spouse, unmarried children under 21, orphans adopted abroad or to be adopted, and parents. The sponsor must be a US citizen and Louisiana resident. Sponsors of parents must be at least 21 years old.

The second type is for extended family members. This type is called a family preference visa. The sponsor must be a US citizen. In some cases which our New Orleans immigration lawyers will explain, the sponsor can also be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The eligible family preferences, according to Immigration Forum, include:

  • Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their children
  • Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of LPRs
  • Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children
  • Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old.

US citizens can file an immigrant visa petition for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or brother or sister. LPRs can only file an immigrant visa application for a spouse or an unmarried son or daughter.

Other family immigration categories include:

  • A fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1) or the fiancé(e)’s child (K-2)
  • A widower of a US citizen. The applicant must have been married to the US spouse at the time the spouse died.
  • A victim of battery or extreme cruelty – and the applicant is an abused spouse of a US citizen or LPR, or an abused child (unmarried and under 21) of a US citizen or LPR.

Are there limits on the number of eligible family immigration visas?

There are no limits on the number of immediate family visas. The United States, since 1990, has limited the number of family preference visas to 480,000 each fiscal year. It’s important to know that the 480,000 is reduced by the number of immediate family visas. So, if 200,000 family immediate family visas are issued in a year, then the eligible number of family preference visas is reduced to 280,000. There is an extra condition. The United States does authorize a minimum of 226,000 family preference visas each year.

According to Immigration Forum about 40 percent of family preferences visas are issued to the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents. Nearly six percent of family preference visas are issued to siblings of US citizens.

There is another limitation. The United States has a cap of seven percent of family immigration visas (both immediate and family preference combined) for each country.

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What are the requirements for obtaining a family immigration visa in New Orleans?

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At the Law Office of James A. Graham, we’ll guide you through the family immigration visa process. There are many different requirements that the applicant and the sponsor must meet. These requirements are reviewed by United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The sponsoring relative:

  • Must be at least 18. In some situations, they must be 21.
  • The sponsor must file a petition with USCIS.
  • The petitioner must be able to verify/prove that the family relationship does exist – that the applicant is indeed your spouse, child, parent, or another relative.
  • The sponsor will need to sign an affidavit that he/she will be financially responsible for the applicant.

The applicant/immigrant will:

  • Undergo a complete background and security check, including criminal, health, national security, and other reviews.
  • Be examined to be sure the applicant won’t require public assistance at the government’s expense.

After the family immigration application is approved, the application is reviewed by the National Visa Center which will normally request that the applicant/immigrant complete more forms and submit more documents – along with the application processing fees.

The applicant will also be interviewed by a US Embassy or Consulate office. Finally, the applicant will have a medical examination by an approved doctor and obtain any necessary vaccinations.

Once all these steps are completed successfully, the family immigration visa should be approved.

What do I bring to the Embassy or Consulate interview?

What to bring to the Embassy Interview

Many of the families we work with have some anxiety about their Embassy or Consulate interview. We understand that this can be a bit overwhelming, especially because you may not be with your family member when he or she attends the interview.

This is an important part of the process, however, so you should be prepared. Per the US State Department, your loved one must bring the following documents to the interview:

  • Appointment Letter from the National Visa Center (NVC).
  • A valid, unexpired passport for each applicant (the passport must be “valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States”).
  • Two identical copies of the same colored photograph for each applicant.
  • DS-260 Confirmation Page.
  • “Original or certified copies of all civil documents you uploaded into CEAC,” the Consular Electronic Application Center, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, military records, and so forth.
  • Any visa application fees if they have not already been paid in full.

Note that if your loved ones need to change the interview dates for any reason, they can ­– but they must contact the Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. Failure to show up for an interview can lead to the application being terminated, and any fees you or they have already paid will not be refunded.

How long does the family immigration process take in Louisiana?

The entire process from the date of the application through the date of approval can move quickly for immediate family immigrant applications, provided the applications are filled out in full, all fees have been paid, and there are no problems with the interview. Family preference applications can take years or even decades depending on the number of eligible visas, the country caps, the family relationship, the ability to obtain the necessary documentation, and other factors. There are long backups already for family preference visas. Applicants from some countries where many people want to come to America will have the wait the longest. These high-demand countries include Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines.

Do you have a family immigration lawyer near me?

The Law Office of James A. Graham has two office locations in South Louisiana:

For clients who are unable to travel, we can schedule phone or video conferences when needed.

Speak with our experienced New Orleans immigration lawyers today

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, we understand how much better life is when it includes family. Our New Orleans family immigration lawyers understand the unique challenges and joys involved with seeking a family immigration visa for a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or another relative. Dealing with USCIS can frightening. We’ll answer all your questions and calmly process your case step-by-step. To discuss how you can help bring a loved one to New Orleans, please call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation with  an immigration lawyer in New Orleans or Slidell.