It may come as a surprise to most people, but the mail order bride business is still with us and growing. With the advent of the Internet, the mail order bride business is booming with over 600 sites featuring Russian women alone.
A mail order bride agency works by listing women who want to marry a foreign man. The largest number of women come from Russia, the Ukraine, and the Philippines. The Philippines outlawed mail order brides in 1990 with little effect. Agencies simply put out reverse catalogues listing men who wished to get married. They also set up so-called “pen pal” sites. It is estimated that around 4,000 to 6,000 women a year immigrate through mail order bride agencies.
Mail order bride agencies are almost totally unregulated and no background checks are done on either the prospective bride or groom. Women who have no intention of marrying them can cheat prospective grooms out of their money. Soon after a correspondence has started, the woman says she is in love with the man. A little while later she may say she needs money for an operation or a family crisis. She may also request money to buy airline tickets to come to the U.S. All of these are warning signs and the best advise to the men is don’t send money.
Mail order brids srisk getting stuck in an abusive marriage or even in forced prostitution. The latter is the reason that the Philippines outlawed the mail order bride business. In 1996, Congress passed a law protecting mail order brides. If they could prove abuse, mail order brides could leave their husbands without fear of deportation.
The mail order bride agencies make money by charging the men three to six dollars per name, address, and phone number. Others may charge for whole catalogues that cost from $120 to $1850 per catalogue. An estimated 50,000 to 10,000 catalogues are sent out each year for Russian brides. Another way they make money is to charge $3000 to $5000 for a “romance” tour of the bride’s country. A third service is a charge for interpreting letters, e-mails, and phone calls.
Mail order brides enter the country on a “fiancÃ?Â©e” visa. In 2003 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issued 17,363 “fiancÃ?Â©e” visas, 7968 from Asia and 4714 from Europe. When the marriage occurs, the USCIS requires supporting evidence of “good faith” marriage such as wedding and vacation photos, love letters, joint bank accounts, bills, and insurance policies. After three months of marriage, the wife can get a green card and at this time the number of mail order brides who leave their husbands increases. After two years of marriage, the bride is granted an unconditional permanent residence and another rise in separation occurs.
Who are these mail order brides and who are the prospective grooms? According to a study by David Ledlick, the men are while, well educated, and relatively prosperous. They want women with “traditional values.” They don’t want women with their own careers and expect that their mail order brides will be happy as a homemaker, asking for nothing more than a husband, home, and family. Ledlick thinks they are looking for control more than for a loving relationship.
Miles Glodova studied 30 couples and found only two close in age, all the others were 20 to 50 years apart in age.
The mail order brides are looking for a better life in the U.S. but they are also looking for a good husband and have heard that American men make good husbands. They say that men from their own countries cheat, are abusive, or ignore their wives.
Eighty percent of all marriages between an American man and a foreign woman last.