Woman came from Ecuador on a fiancee visa
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
When Elsa Jimena-Wagner came to the United States from Ecuador with a fiancee visa, she came determined to become a U.S. citizen.
Gallacher: Was it hard to leave your country?
Wagner: Yes it was, because I come from a big traditional family. We are really united. So it was hard leaving not only my family but my country and my traditions and everything. The first year was very hard but that is normal for anybody. But after moving here it has been O.K. because I have had a good experience in this country. The good thing is I go back every summer and I spend the summer with my family. So it is not too bad.
Gallacher: Do you remember the day you left?
Wagner: I came on October 3rd 2000 because I was getting married the next day, but I got stuck in Miami in a storm. They closed the airport. (Laughs) I got married two days later when I finally got to my destination.
If I had gotten married in my country I would have had to wait for a visa for at least five years, possibly 10. Luckily, I talked to some people who had this problem before I applied. I found out it is much easier to come as a fiancee than it is as a wife. So that is why I got married in the United States instead of Ecuador.
The immigration situation around the world is so complicated. There are many difficulties and so you are required to prove over and over that everything is legal and that you are not just getting married because you want to go to the U.S. It was sad for my family to not be able to participate in the wedding, but it was the best way to do it for everybody.
It is not easy to get a fiancee visa. The process actually requires a lot of documentation to prove that the relationship has been taking place over a period of time that is required. I believe it is two years prior to the marriage, and we had six years before we applied.
I am a person who is very detailed and keep papers in order. So I had all of my letters, photos and videos. It was easy for me to prove my relationship with my husband was true and normal.
Gallacher: When did you finally feel like you were a citizen of the United States?
Wagner: When I learned the language. Because when I came, I came prepared for the change. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. And I knew it would take time. I am a person who has patience like forever, for eternity. So it was not hard for me at all waiting for my immigration documents, waiting on the process. That was not a problem for me.
I felt a part of this country the moment I felt I could speak the language and get around on my own, and I did that in the shortest time that was possible.
Gallacher: Do you remember that day?
Wagner: Yes, it was when I got my first job. That was when I realized that I could do it. That was when I said to myself, “I can do it. I don’t have the perfect language but now I know the basics and I can speak with people. I can ask and respond. I will go day by day doing better.”
That is what I do. I try my best every day in everything I do. I knew that I could do it. I didn’t know when but I knew that it would happen.
Gallacher: What do you like best about the United States?
Wagner: Something that I like and I think most people who come here are looking for are the opportunities, for everybody who wants to take the chance and dreams of being successful. I like that this country has many big opportunities, for many people not just the citizens but for anyone who is well prepared.
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