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How to bring your loved one to the U.S.

Q: I have a girlfriend in Colombia where I come from and we are very much in love. Can I sponsor her for a fiancée visa? If so, how can she get it and how does it work?

A: Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your girlfriend, as long as you realize that you will have to get married shortly after she arrives in the U.S.

A U.S. citizen can sponsor their fiancée to come to this country on a fiancee visa, known as a K-1 visa. If the visa is approved, they must marry within 90 days to the person who sponsored their visa in order to qualify for adjustment of status to permanent residence in this country.

An application for a fiancée visa is made by the submission of Form I-129F to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security. There are many documents necessary to submit with the I-129, including photos, birth records and other supporting documents. It generally takes approximately nine months to one year to finish the fiancée visa process.

Upon submission of the application, the Immigration Service attempts to determine if the relationship is bona fide. In order to prove that the relationship is valid, it is necessary to provide certain documentation. This includes evidence of the past relationship, correspondence, travel records, other evidence of your time spent together and your courtship. It is helpful to submit photographs of you together, including photos with family members if possible. We recommend that clients also submit statements from family members confirming that the relationship exists.

It is also necessary to submit financial documents proving that you can support the fiancée in the United States financially. This usually includes tax returns, W2s from an employer and a letter confirming present employment.

Once approval in the U.S. occurs, there is a consular interview at the Consulate overseas at which the applicant may be asked questions about the relationship.

If the officer is satisfied the relationship is bona fide, and all other requirements for the visa are met, the visa is approved. Once the person comes to the United States,you must marry within 90 days. U.S. law does not allow the individual to switch to a different U.S. visa under any circumstances. If the marriage does not occur, the person must return to their home country.