Are Mail Order Brides Legal? All Aspects & Laws Explained
Are mail order spouses illegal? They aren’t, but there are lots of aspects and nuances to consider. We’ll analyze them all in detail in this guide and offer the list of the platforms that provide legal mail order bride services to men looking for a foreign wife in different regions, namely Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
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The basics: Are mail order spouses illegal?
In the nineties, there were around 10,000 mail order marriages a year in the US only. There is no recent data on the number of such couples, mostly because nowadays, there are fewer agencies that connect men with mail order spouses and more niche dating sites where foreigners meet each other, and such data are harder to track. Still, the number of actual mail order marriages hardly reduced, and here are the main things that make them legal in the United States:
- Men meet foreign mail order brides on mail order bride platforms that work pretty much like regular dating sites with some advanced communication tools and matchmaking services
- Mail order brides don’t receive any kind of financial compensation for marrying a foreign man
- Men and mail order brides build an authentic romantic relationship
- A man and his future mail order wife meet each other in real life before they decide to get married and apply for a K-1 visa or another visa to a future husband’s country
Simply put, modern mail order brides aren’t women for sale or gold diggers but single women looking for relationships with foreign men, no more and no less than that.
Are mail order brides legal in the US, Canada, Great Britain & Australia?
Are mail order spouse illegal in western countries? No, foreign mail order brides are legal if all a couple follows the terms that we listed above. These rules work for the US, as well as for most other developed countries, still, there are some differences, and we analyze them all below.
- The United States. A man who’s going to marry a mail order bride can marry her in the US, and in this case she needs to apply for a K-1 visa (getting it takes around 10 months and costs around $1,000). An American citizen can also marry his mail order bride in her home country. But in this case, they will also need to prove that they have an authentic relationship and then, a mail order wife will be able to apply for a visa for a relative. Both visas can be granted only if a couple has met in real life within the last two years, and though both options may work, most couples still prefer to apply for a fiance(e) K-1 visa.
- Canada. The system in Canada isn’t much different from the system in the United States. If Canadians want to marry foreign women, they must become their sponsors, i.e., agree to cover the basic needs of a current/future spouse and their children, if any. It doesn’t necessarily take place, but a man must prove he is able to provide for a spouse and a family. In 5 years, mail order wives who married Canadian men will become Canadian citizens.
- The United Kingdom. In the UK, there is the so-called marriage visitor visa. Again, it’s pretty similar to K-1 visas issued to mail order brides in the US, and the terms, conditions, and regulations are nearly the same, too. In particular, a couple will need to prove they have an authentic relationship, have met in real life, confirm that a citizen has at least a minimum income, etc. If citizens of the UK marry mail order brides in third countries, their wives can apply for a family visa and stay in the country for more than 2 years.
- Australia. Mail order brides who’re going to apply as an Australian citizen usually apply for the so-called prospective marriage visa. Mail order brides who already married an Australian can get a Partner visa to the country. The processes are similar to the procedures in the US and other western countries, but the cost of such a visa is much higher—around $7,000 compared to around $1,000.
Countries where mail order brides are illegal
There are countries where mail order marriages are illegal. However, the thing is in most cases, if you take a closer look at laws and regulations, you’ll definitely notice some loopholes that can make mail order brides legal.
- The Philippines. In the Philippines, marriages with mail order brides are legal, but mail order bride services aren’t—arranging marriages is prohibited there. But if a couple just met on a dating site, they will have no problem neither in the Philippines nor in a husband’s country.
- Turkmenistan. This country is really the least popular country to marry a mail order bride—there was a law according to which every foreign citizen who wanted to marry a local girl had to pay 50 thousand dollars. It was canceled later, but it didn’t improve the situation for local mail order brides—there were no immigrants from this country in recent years.
- Belarus. The government of this country tried to regulate marriage brokers, but the thing is there are no mail order bride sites registered there, and marrying a foreign citizen is still perfectly legal, so thousands of men keep marrying foreign women from Belarus yearly without any problem.
Laws that protect a foreign mail order bride: VAWA and IMBRA acts
In the US, there is an International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and the Violence Against Women Act, and both are aimed at protecting mail order spouses rather than at making mail order brides illegal:
- IMBRA—this act makes background checks of a potential husband of a mail order bride a must, and marriage agencies, in turn, have no right to hide information on criminal records from potential mail order brides.
- VAWA—act enhancing access to safety and justice for women, including foreign mail order brides who got more rights and opportunities to respect themselves and also stay in the US if they divorce an abuser.
Note that IMBRA regulates marriage brokers, not the dating sites—only the agencies must check the background of every client.
A mail order bride industry is nothing like it was a century ago, and that’s the main thing that makes mail order brides legal in most countries of the world. Modern brides are just single women looking for love, and men using mail order bride services are just single men looking for exactly the same thing and ready to build an authentic relationship with a partner. There are a very few places in the world where such a scenario is considered illegal.