Are Mail Order Brides Legal Nowadays?
Ever since the internet has become a mainstay in our lives, many men have started using international dating as a way to get more options when it comes to finding a perfect wife. There is now even a special term used for Western men marrying women from other countries they met online: they are known as mail order marriages.
Here is how mail order brides services work, whether they are an effective way of finding foreign spouses, where you should go if you are interested in meeting foreign brides, and what is the answer to the most important question: are mail order brides legal?
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La Date: Ideal for communicating with lovely Latin brides via chat and letters.
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Love Fort: There are countless Latino women who can't wait to meet their foreign husbands.
If you came here to find out more about the possibility of getting a foreign spouse, chances are you don't know much about the concept of mail order brides. You may even worry about the legality of the whole process or wonder about the things that attract women living in foreign countries in marriage to men living in Western Europe and the US. Here are some essential things to know about what a mail order bride and how mail order bride platforms works.
The very concept of mail order bride services is definitely older than you think. It didn't originate with the beginning of the internet era, and it didn't even originate in the twentieth century, which is the idea you may have gotten from the abundance of mail order spouse-related media a couple of decades ago.
The first mail order brides were actually English women in the 17th century, who responded to newspaper ads from single American men. These men and women never saw each other before agreeing to get married, but for many of them, the risky decision to marry a total stranger resulted in a happy marriage that lasted for a long time.
Since then, mail order brides went through several waves of popularity. Women from France, other European countries, Asia, and even parts of the United States came to other parts of the US to marry single American men. In the late 20th century, Slavic mail order brides - especially Russian and Ukrainian girls - gained special popularity among US gentlemen. Those were the marriages arranged through international marriage agencies, or marriage brokers.
When learning more about mail order spouses, you can often hear the term "international marriage brokers." The word "brokers" instantly makes you think of something serious and business-like, but the truth is that an international marriage broker is simply an international marriage agency.
It typically operates online and has its own catalog of women who want to get married abroad. The marriage agencies then connect these women with foreign men who are dreaming of mail order brides, and if the communication is smooth on both ends, then most international marriage agencies can also help with the next steps, including the first real-life meeting and fulfilling the legal requirements for foreign spouses to reunite.
21 years into the 21st century, the mail order bride industry is alive and well, although it certainly went through major transformations. Unlike the mail order brides services of the 20th and early 21st century, where the agency was responsible for much of the man's success and often played matchmaker in the relationship, today the man has far more control and more responsibilities in the task of finding himself a bride.
For example, very few services these days offer human matchmaking features. Some of them have matching algorithms, but that's about it: as a man, you will do your own search based on your own desired parameters, decide who you want to contact on your own, and choose a relationship strategy that you believe will deliver the desired result.
And even though Western men now have plenty of ways to meet local women for dating and marriage, the popularity of foreign spouses has not slowed down in the slightest over the past decades. In fact, the growth of international dating websites has only introduced more Western guys to the benefits of marrying foreign women.
There is now even a special type of visa granted specifically to mail order brides entering the US, known as a K-1 visa. And while the sheer number of K-1 granted in 2020 has decreased compared to 2019 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, foreign ladies continue immigrating to the United States to reunite with their future husbands.
So is a mail order spouse illegal in the United States? The short answer to this question is no, it is not illegal to marry a woman you've met online and brought into the US as your bride, but on several conditions:
- She was not forced to marry you by you or a third party
- She did not get paid to marry you
- You have a real relationship and are not just faking it to get her a Green Card
- You intend to remain married for a long time
- She does not actually identify as a mail order bride, especially to others
Even though mail order unions are widespread right now, there are surprisingly few countries that regulate them from a legal standpoint. Besides the few countries in the Western part of the world where these marriages are legal on the conditions listed above, the only country with a strong stance on mail order brides is the Philippines.
And this stance is a negative one. The Republic Act 6955, also known as the Anti Mail-Order Bride Law prohibits marriages between Filipinas and foreigners. However, these interracial couples obviously find a way to circumvent this law and get married anyway.
There are two primary mail order brides legal documents operating right now in the US. They are designed to protect foreign wives of American citizens from things like domestic violence, financial abuse, and other situations where the woman suffers unfair treatment at the hands of her husband and has nowhere to go. These documents are:
IMBRA, or International Marriage Broker Act of 2005. It requires all US visa sponsors to undergo background checks and men using marriage brokers to do the same.
VAWA, or Violence Against Women Act of 1994. It was designed for foreign spouses of American citizens who undergo abuse but want to apply for a Green Card independently from their husbands.
The important thing to know is that you are not the first American man thinking about bringing a foreign lady as your wife into the United States. Every year, thousands of men do the same. And even though the number of foreign spouses immigrating to the US has declined in 2020 (16,849 against 35,881 in 2019), this is only due to the COVID-19-related restrictions, not because mail order brides have lost any of their popularity.
There is a standard legal procedure for US citizens who want to marry foreign women. Your bride will need a K-1 visa, which was designed specifically for foreign citizens entering the US to marry American citizens. One of the key requirements for being applicable for a K-1 visa is that you and your future wife actually have a relationship and are not just marrying each other for visa benefits. This can be proven with the help of photos, emails, plane tickets, testimonials from friends - anything to prove that your romance is real.
In addition to the relationship evidence, your future partner will need to supply the following papers:
- Birth certificate
- National passport
- Divorce or death certificate for any previous spouses
- Form DS-160
- Completed medical exam
- Evidence of financial means
- Payment of fees
The whole process can take between three months and a year, so make sure to be patient, maintain active communication, and never lose focus on your ultimate goal.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can find a spouse in any corner of the globe. However, some parts of the world are still more popular with Western guys looking for a mail order wife. Traditionally, they turn to Asia, Europe, and Latin America when searching for a perfect spouse, and these are the most popular destinations in each continent.
- Dominican Republic
A modern man dreaming of a foreign wife generally has it easier than men who came before. Only a few decades ago, men either had to work with some shady agencies, settle for women from their own countries, or spend exorbitant amounts of money on temporarily moving to a foreign country to meet women there. And even then, they couldn't always convince the woman to leave her old life behind and move abroad with them forever.
This is why the internet is now the number one place to find a spouse from overseas. Whether you are into Russian women, Korean women, Mexican women, Vietnamese women, or Ukrainian women, there is the right dating site for that. At the same time, there aren't as many United States marriage agencies as one would hope. So where should you go to meet a mail order bride from abroad?
If you try looking for mail order brides services online, you will probably discover that there aren't a lot of sites that promise you a chance to meet potential mail order spouses. This is because this term now doesn't have the most positive connotation, so these sites prefer to call themselves international dating agencies. Still, at their heart, they are places where you can meet a foreign spouse without leaving your home, at least for the first few months.
Mail order bride sites may have a different name, but they work very similarly to regular dating services. Say, you want a Vietnamese wife. Then you sign up for an Asian dating service and use search and filters to narrow down the selection of single Asian girls to include only the women who match your needs. Then you begin the communication.
You can communicate with one or more girls using every feature offered by the site. These features typically include instant chat, emails, video chat, and phone calls. Some even allow you to get the foreign woman's address and send letters to her directly, the old-school way. Then, once your connection becomes stronger, you can finally plan the trip to the woman's home country, which can become life-changing.
There are now so many online platforms for meeting foreign brides that it may not be easy to navigate this world on your own. Unfortunately, there are still instances where men become victims of scam or end up wasting time talking to a girl who's not even real. When you come across a new platform or want to make sure you are using a legitimate mail order bride service, these are the features to pay attention to:
- Quality of the audience. If 99% of the women on the site look like supermodels, it should raise questions about whether they are real. In other words, if the female members of the site look too good to be true, you might be better off looking for another site.
- Customer support. A good dating service is always ready to hear from its members or help them whenever they need assistance. At the very least, a dating site should have an email you can use to contact it, although a phone number or a live chat are also great things to have.
- Prices. A legitimate dating site will charge you a moderate amount of money for using the service, but it's not interested in simply making you pay as much as possible and running away with your money. In order to become a loyal member, you need to make sure that you are being charged a fair price.
One of the reasons why there is so much talk about the mail order spouse illegal business is that it's not clear for everyone how mail order marriage works. Marrying a mail order bride doesn't mean you can simply open a catalog of eligible bachelorettes, pick the one who meets your aesthetic criteria, and pay someone to get her delivered to your doorstep regardless of what the woman actually thinks about the prospect of marrying you.
There is no doubt that some mail order brides platforms were involved in this type of transaction in the past, but today, they are considered both illegal and violating basic human morals. At the same time, the experience of meeting, dating, and marrying a legitimate mail order bride is not a free one and consists of two main types of expenses: online dating expenses and travel expenses.
The absolute majority of mail order bride sites you will ever encounter require men to pay, and there is a simple reason for that. When men get to use a dating site for free, they tend to behave significantly worse because they don't have anything tying them down to this particular account. If things go wrong, they can simply go and create a new one. Whereas with a paid membership or other forms of paid access to a site, they will control their behavior better.
Various mail order brides platforms can have different paid options for men. Some of them offer a Premium membership, which includes most of the features you'll need, others make you pay for each individual feature using credits or another form of in-site currency, and some sites combine both. Here is how much you'll pay on average for 1 month of being a dating site user:
- Premium membership: $10 to $50
- Additional credits: $50 to $100
- Physical and virtual gifts: $100 to $500
- Translation services: $50
We have already mentioned that one of the requirements for getting a fiancée visa is proof that you've met your future wife in real life at least once before filing the application. And since many foreign brides come from humble beginnings and don't just take expensive trips around the world to meet a potential husband. So it's probably you who will get on the plane to meet your future foreign wife.
Foreign brides come from different countries and even different continents, and the cost of your adventure will always depend on where you are going. For example, if you're in the US, visiting Mexico will always be cheaper for you than going, for example, to South Korea. And even two cities within one country can require completely different budgets for foreign travelers: take Iskan with a population of 9.9-million and Iskan with a population of 300,000 in South Korea. Here is the average typical budget for visiting your foreign woman in her home country for 2 weeks:
- Plane tickets: $500-$1,500
- Accommodations: $700-$2,000
- Food: $400-$1,000
- Transportation: $300-$500
- Entertainment: $400-$800
Keep in mind that while you are paying for plane tickets and accommodations for one, your food, transportation, and entertainment budget can increase significantly if you are going to be spending most of your time with your bride. Like a perfect gentleman, you will probably want to pay for your bride's dinner and taxi rides, so make sure you budget accordingly.
Yes, the term "mail order bride" simply refers to foreign ladies who decided to get around the limits of the dating scene in their own country and find a husband from overseas. Some of them are motivated by negative factors, such as domestic abuse and poverty, but many of them simply want better relationships and more opportunities.
The good news is that the process of getting a mail order spouse changed a lot from its origins, when men wrote letters, women responded to them and agreed to marry men without meeting them even once. Today, no one marries anyone without a lengthy period of online and offline communication.
A typical mail order marriage works like this: you sign up for one of the popular mail order bride sites and find one or more women who catch your attention. You chat or exchange letters with the woman, getting to know her and trying to decide whether you are a good match for each other. Then, after you've been talking online for some time, you can finally meet in real life. This is where your relationship finally gets on track for marriage.
Starting with the real-life meeting, the success and outcome of your relationship no longer depend on the functionality provided by a dating site and how well you can communicate online. It depends on the chemistry between you and your bride, whether your views on life match each other's, and whether her desire to get a foreign husband is actually as strong as she thought.
In general, yes, there are thousands of Russian women who want to marry Western men and choose such a way to make it happen. However, the legitimacy of the Russian brides you meet online very much depends on the platform you're working with. If you go for one of the online platforms we've listed earlier in this article, you can expect the brides to be completely legit.
The situation with Asian brides you meet online is similar to the situation with Russian brides. There are some online platforms where some female profiles are actually fake. But you can minimize the possibility of that happening if you choose a reputable dating site and pay attention to the most common online dating red flags.
Yes, marrying foreigners, including mail order brides, is perfectly legal in the United States, but only if you don't state outright that your future wife is a mail order bride. The US judicial system still views mail order brides as women who marry men without having a real relationship with them prior to that. So as long as you can prove that you and your future spouse have a genuine connection and your marriage is not an example of abusive relationships, you should have no problem with getting a fiancée visa.
If you're under the impression that the existence of mail order spouses means you can actually pay someone - the bride herself or some agency representing her - this is not how this works at all. It actually means that you have an opportunity to meet women through personal ads on dating websites, communicate with them online, meet in real life, and possibly marry them. It does cost money, but the money isn't going directly to the girl for communicating with you.
When meeting international brides, there will be two major instances for you to spend money: when using online mail order services and when planning your first real-life date with your bride. Overall, the cost of your endeavor can depend on numerous factors, but men typically pay between $5,000 and $20,000 for the whole thing.
Again, the answer to this question can vary a lot since it depends on many factors, including even your luck and your experience with the ladies. On average, it takes American men between 6 and 12 months to go from signing up for a dating site (we recommend Bravo Date) to receiving a fiancé visa for their life partner. It's always possible that it will take less in your case, but 12 months is also not the upper limit. For example, many fiancée visa applications were delayed because of COVID.