Also available in: Spanish
T he Braden, Gonzalez & Associates Law Firm practices in the following areas:
- Permanent Residence
- Family Based Immigration
- Employment Based Immigration
- U.S. Citizenship
- Non-Resident Visas
- Employment Visas
- I-9 Enforcement/Worksite Compliance And Audits
- Immigration Related Criminal Matters
- Deferred Action
- Removal & Deportation Defense
- Downfalls/Consecuences of Not Becoming a Citizen
Family Immigration Attorney
K eeping families together is our priority. At the Gonzalez Law Firm, all of our attorneys are immigrants, as is most of our staff. We understand firsthand the issues that our clients face. This assists us in helping clients from throughout Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas to bring their family members to the United States, and keep them here.
Family Based Green Card Application
When one member of a family lives in the United States and others live abroad, reuniting in the United States can be especially complex. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires substantial documentation and information before approving an application. Without an experienced lawyer on your side, you may make critical mistakes that could lead to unnecessary delays or denials. At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we help people from around the nation and the world in all types of family immigration matters.
Your Guide Throughout The Family Immigration Process
We are often asked to help U.S. citizens secure U.S. residency for who are nationals spouses or fiancé(e)s of other countries and reside outside of the U.S. For a fiancé(e), we will file a K-1 visa application with USCIS. After approval, the USCIS will notify the consular section of the U.S. embassy overseas to schedule an appointment for your fiancé(e)’s interview. Once the visa is issued, your fiancé(e) can enter the U.S. You will have 90 days from that entry date in which to marry.
The K-3 visa application process, for couples are already married, is similar to the K-1 visa process, but requires one additional preliminary step. You must first file an I-130 form with USCIS and include the receipt notice with the K-3 application as evidence of filing. Our law firm can assist in these steps. If this application is approved, your spouse can live in the U.S. while waiting for USCIS to approve the I-130.
Applying For Your Green Card
Once USCIS has approved your visa application or if your spouse or fiancé(e) has already entered the U.S. on a K-1 or K-3 visa, our law firm can assist you in applying for adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is the process of applying for a green card if you are already in the United States with an approved immigrant visa. An approved green card is evidence of legal permanent resident status in the U.S.
The green card application process is especially complex. Many individuals who attempt to file for a green card on their own are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paperwork and information. We will make the process as streamlined as possible. In addition, there will be an adjustment interview at a local USCIS office for which we will prepare you. You will be asked detailed questions about your relationship and your background.
New Orleans Citizenship Attorney
T he United States government allows foreign-born persons to gain United States citizenship through a legal process known as naturalization. Any person who completes the naturalization process is entitled to the rights, privileges, status and duties of any U.S. citizen.
Among the benefits citizens enjoy are the freedoms to live and work here, to travel outside national borders, the rights to vote and run for public office, to serve in juries and the privileges of receiving government social services and benefits. Naturalized citizens are also eligible to sponsor relatives who are currently not living in the U.S.
At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we assist clients in applying for United States citizenship through the process of naturalization. Our attorneys, are immigrants who understand the intricacies of immigration policy and naturalization.
Applicants for naturalization must meet a few basic criteria:
- Being at least 18 years of age and having lived for five years or longer as a permanent resident (three years, if married to the same U.S. citizen for the entire period)
- Possessing a good moral character
- Possessing the ability to speak and understand English (this requirement may be waived if the applicant is old or disabled)
- Passing a citizenship test concerning the history of the United States and its government.
Additional factors may influence your citizenship application. For instance, if you are a non-citizen who is serving, or has served in the U.S. armed forces, it may help you in your efforts to become a full citizen. Also, if your foreign-born child has lived most of his or her life in the U.S., is enrolled in school and meets other criteria, he or she may be able to remain in the United States and avoid deportation through a new deferred action policy as a first step toward citizenship.
U.S. immigration and naturalization policies are complicated, and can be very confusing for the uninitiated. Fortunately, the immigration law firm of Gonzalez, has the experience and knowledge to help.
If you, or a member of your family, is considering naturalization, we can help you to prepare your citizen application, including filling out the appropriate paperwork and collecting necessary documents. We can also advise you on preparing for your citizenship test, and we accompany you to your subsequent naturalization interview.
Retain our experienced immigration and naturalization lawyer, and you will not have to walk the path to citizenship alone.
New Orleans Employment Visa Attorney
I n today’s global economy, demand for workers flows across international boundaries. In the United States, the federal government has recognized this reality. As a result, foreign workers are allowed to live and work here under a variety of employment visas.
At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we assist employers in following the legal guidelines for securing work visas on behalf of foreign employees. Meet with us, and we can discuss the best temporary or permanent visa available based on your prospective employees’ qualifications, interests and purposes.
We assist employers in obtaining these and other temporary employment visas on behalf of their prospective employees:
- E-2 visas for treaty investors
- L-1 visas for employees transferring within companies
- H-1B visas for workers in specialty occupations
- H-2 visas for temporary or seasonal workers
- O visas for employees of extraordinary ability, their assistants and dependents
- P visas for artists, athletes and entertainers
- Q visas for visitors under international cultural exchange programs
- R visas for religious workers
- TN visas for Mexican and Canadian workers in a profession defined by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Once you decided upon the visa you would like to pursue, Gonzalez Law Firm, can help you to prepare and file a Form I-129, or Petition for Nonimmigrant Alien Worker, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
From there, our experienced employment visa attorney can help you pursue, and secure, the visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate. Doing this can create a path for employees to obtain permanent residency through the labor certification process.
I-9 Enforcement/Worksite Compliance and Audits
New Orleans Attorney helping Business with I-9 Enforcement
Every employer, regardless of its size or industry, must ensure that its employees can legally work in the United States. The federal government requires employers to have each employee complete Form I-9, which will confirm an employee’s identity and legal status. Both the employer and employee are responsible for completing a portion of the I-9 form. When employees or employers fail to complete these forms, it can result in an audit and fines.
By taking proactive measures, a company can ensure compliance with immigration laws and avoid these problems. A knowledgeable immigration lawyer will be instrumental in developing a sound course of action. At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we offer dynamic, strategic representation to employers. While based in the New Orleans area, we represent clients across the nation. In addition to developing compliance strategies, we represent businesses that face possible sanctions due to immigration violations.
Developing Powerful Strategies To Protect Our Clients’ Rights
With more than 40 years of legal experience, the Gonzalez Law Firm has helped employers at every stage of the I-9 compliance process. Our law firm is often asked to conduct annual self-audits for businesses that want to make certain their employees have the necessary documentation. On the other hand, if your company faces a Notice of Inspection (NOI) from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it is absolutely critical to have a lawyer on your side immediately.
If your company faces an audit from ICE, our law firm will help you respond appropriately to the request. If your company does face fines, we will try to negotiate with the government to reduce these penalties.
Above all, we want to put our business clients in a position to avoid these problems down the road. Our attorney often leads training sessions with human resources employees on how to keep immigration records and maintain compliance. We recommend the use of E-verify, a free government program that helps businesses determine an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. In short, every step we take will be aimed at helping your company both now and in the future.
New Orleans Criminal Immigration Lawyer
A ny criminal conviction can have devastating consequences. For individuals who are not permanent residents of the United States, such as individuals who hold green cards, a criminal conviction can lead to removal from the United States. If you or someone you love faces criminal charges and the threat of removal or deportation, a knowledgeable lawyer can make a world of difference.
At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we take effective action for people facing the risk of deportation due to a criminal conviction. Our New Orleans criminal immigration attorneys, have many years of experience representing clients across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.
Many criminal convictions can lead to deportation or removal. These crimes include:
- Crimes involving moral turpitude. The guidelines on exactly what is a crime of moral turpitude are vague. With this said, certain types of crimes, such as theft, fraud, assault and robbery, are typically considered crimes of moral turpitude. Drunk driving may be considered a crime of moral turpitude depending on a number of factors.
- Aggravated felonies, such as murder, rape, and other crimes of violence
- All drug convictions, except for possession of 30 grams of marijuana or less
- Weapons-related crimes
- Domestic violence-related crimes
- Human trafficking
A number of other factors must be considered as well, such as whether the offender is in the United States lawfully. Whatever your loved one’s situation involves, we understand just how much is at stake and will create the best possible strategy to achieve your goals.
For most of our clients facing the threat of deportation, release from detention is their most pressing concern. Whenever possible, we will seek a hearing to have you or your loved one released on bond. After a bond hearing, we will look closely at all possible types of relief, including cancellation of removal, a waiver of inadmissibility, asylum or an adjustment of status. In certain situations, post-conviction relief may be the best option. In these instances, we will work closely with a criminal defense attorney to support your case.
Whatever decision we make, you can rely on our law firm to be with your family every step of the way. We can make jail visits as necessary and will establish telephone conferences if your loved one lives far away. Our lawyer will maintain regular contact with you and your family to discuss the legal issues in your case and will do everything within the law to help reunite your family.
New Orleans Deferred Action Lawyer
I n June 2012, the Obama Administration announced that foreign-born young people who were brought to the United States as children, may be eligible to remain in the country as part of a “deferred action” process.
Under the process, qualifying young people can have removal proceedings against them delayed (or deferred) for two years. This deferral can be renewed. As a result, it is now possible for qualifying young people to remain in the country permanently under the deferred action process and eventually become citizens.
This new policy is exciting, and gives hope to millions of immigrant children who have spent their lives in the United States and wish to remain here without immediate fear of deportation. At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping young people to acquire deferred actions under the law.
Do I Qualify For Deferred Action? | New Orleans Deportation And Removal Lawyer
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, you must meet these criteria to be eligible for deferred action:
- You must have come to the United States before age 16
- You must have lived in the United States on June 15, 2012, and for five years prior to that date
- You must be enrolled in a school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or must be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. armed forces or Coast Guard
- You must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or be considered a threat to national security or public safety
- You must be younger than 30
A deferred action is not a visa. It is also not automatic. It is more like a temporary exemption from deportation that an immigrant child seeks from immigration authorities. Rather than saying “You have a legal right to be here,” immigration authorities are acknowledging that “We are choosing not to deport you, for now.”
The distinction may seem technical, but it is important to any foreign-born young person who wishes to remain in the United States. Although deferred action is a new policy, it is also politically controversial. As a result, it may not exist for very long. A new presidential administration or congress could repeal the policy.
Deferred Action May Go Away; Act Now To Secure Your Deferment
Because of this, it is important that you act quickly to take advantage of this policy while it is available. If you think that you, or a family member, is eligible for deferred action, contact the Gonzalez Law Firm, immediately.
Our experienced immigration attorneys, are immigrants who understands the challenges that immigrants and their children face. She can guide you through the correct legal process to secure a deferred action for you now, and to pursue your permanent resident status and citizenship in the future.
Removal & Deportation Defense
New Orleans Deportation Defense Lawyer
F or many people, “deportation” is the most frightening word in the English language. The word has the power to separate families, destroy dreams, and obliterate years of hard work and struggle.
At the Gonzalez Law Firm, we work to keep families together. Our attorneys, understand the challenges that immigrants face.
Effective Deportation Defense | Metairie Immigration Removal Lawyer
If you or someone you love is in the United States illegally, has overstayed a visa, has violated the terms of a visa, or has been convicted of committing a felony or misdemeanor, our law office can provide an effective deportation defense. We can guide you through the correct legal steps, so you, or your loved one, can remain in the United States, legally.
Among the legal tools we can use to help you are:
- Cancellation of removal. Both permanent residents and nonpermanent residents may be eligible to have their removal orders canceled if they meet certain qualifications and obtain the consent of an immigration judge.
- Political asylum. If you have a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country due to race, religion, nationality, political affiliation or membership in a social group, you may obtain permission to remain in the United States.
- Adjustment of status. If you meet qualifications, you can seek a visa under a family immigration or employment visa process, or permanent residency (PERM, green card) under U.S. immigration rules.
- Domestic abuse petition. If you are being abused by a spouse who is a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, you may be able to avoid removal by filing an I-360 petition for residency under the protection of U.S. Violence Against Women Act.
- Deferred action. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may, under certain circumstances, choose not to deport (or choose not to pursue removal of) classes of immigrants through an administrative process that is independent of the court system. We can determine if your circumstances qualify you for deferred action.
- Prosecutorial discretion. The DHS has directed prosecutors to de-emphasize the deportation of so-called “low-priority” individuals, including children, students and young adults who have lived in the United States for most of their lives. Although prosecutorial discretion has so far been used infrequently, we can pursue it as an option in your case.
- Motions to reopen/appeals. If you face an order for deportation, we may be able to reopen your case under certain circumstances, such as lack of notice by the authorities. We can pursue an appeal of your case to the Board of Immigrant Appeals and/or federal courts.
Downfalls/Consequences Of Not Becoming A Citizen
To become or not a US citizen?
You have a green card, maybe a two year conditional card or a ten year card. You’ve been a permanent resident three years, five years, ten years. Have you considered becoming a US citizen? No? Why not?
- Is it because you think it’s too expensive to file?
- Is it because it takes too long?
- Is it because you don’t understand the process?
- Is it because your country doesn’t accept dual citizenship and you don’t want to lose it?
- Is it because you don’t speak or write English?
- Is it because you’re fine the way you are as a permanent resident?
Well, let us tell you why our office recommends all of our clients to become a US citizen as soon as they are able. US citizenship at this point is only a few steps away. You’ve come this far. You entered the US through a visa, marriage, asylum, undocumented or any other way. You filed for your adjustment of status, or your employer filed for you labor certification, you went to interviews, paid the filing fees, waited years for all of this and now you have been a permanent resident for the required period of time. Let us first address the concerns above and then tell you why you should consider filing an N400.
- The filing fees for an N400 are $680. Not too bad for the benefits you will see it provides. If you hire an attorney, you may be offered a payment plan for legal fees, such as our office does. The peace of mind of having your application prepared and filed by a professional is many times worth the cost.
- The process takes anywhere from four to six months until your interview and oath ceremony.
- The process is not nearly as complicated as any of the visas and immigration processes you have already gone through. It’s just one form. And as stated above, you can have the guidance and support of a trusted attorney to help you along the way.
- If your country of origin does not allow you to have two nationalities, then you will have to decide which one you prefer. Naturalization is not for everybody in every circumstance.
- If you don’t speak or write any English whatsoever, then you can probably enroll in classes to learn the basics. The citizenship exam requires you to understand the officer and the pledge at the end of the form, including all of the questions on the application. You will also be required to write three very simple sentences and answer the history/politics questions. You need six correct to pass the test. If you are 50 years old and have been a permanent resident for 20 years or 55 years old and a permanent resident for 15 years, you can take the test in your native language. Don’t let this be the reason you don’t naturalize.
- If you have decided you don’t need to become a permanent resident or for personal reasons you do not wish to apply, you are in your own right. But one of the most important reasons we stress the importance of this benefit is DEPORTATION. It just takes being at the wrong place at the wrong time, pleading guilty to avoid trial to the wrong charge, and then you are in removal proceedings. Being deported to a country where you probably haven’t been for years, separated from your family, with the possibility of being permanently barred. You can avoid all this by filing for citizenship.
- The right to vote.
- Cannot be deported if commit a deportable crime or aggravated felony.
- Work as a federal employee.
- Travel with a US passport.
- Take full part in the US military.
- The right to run for public office.
- The ability to live outside the US without losing your status.
- Apply for family members as immediate relatives (priority status).
- More student aid.