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Home » Is It Legal To Mail Order A Bride And Marry Her In 2024?

Is It Legal to Find a Mail Order Bride for Marriage in 2024?

People usually ask tons of questions about the legality mail order brides. They want to know who they are, why they choose this path, where to meet them, but in fact, the most important question is about the legal requirements for such marriages.

No one wants to get in trouble in law by marrying a girl living on the other side of the world. So, is it legal to mail order a bride in 2024? To give the right answer to this question, one needs to understand what exactly does the term ‘foreign bride’ mean, know about some most important periods in the history of mail-order brides phenomenon, and of course, consider some modern laws. This is what this article is about!

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Mail order brides & the legality of modern mail order bride agencies

Mail-order brides are illegal – is it true? Yes and no. Of course, we understand that you probably didn’t expect such an answer. The thing is to answer this question we need to go back to the 1600s when first mail order brides moved to the West in search of a better life. Then, we’ll compare MOBs of the past and the present to find out why most people think that marrying such a woman can get you in trouble with the law.

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The beginning

We should get back to the history of mail order brides. The thing is in the 1600s-1800s, in the New World, there were a lot of men who left their homes in search of new life in the completely new place, but they did not take women with them. Of course, this was a huge problem. Though men worked hard to make it the Promised Land, they could not even continue the family line or date and marry anyone, etc. There were very few women, and all the work done could be gone in smoke. Of course, living without women can be really boring and even pointless, and that’s not taking into account that a man cannot give birth to a baby.

That’s why men published their ads in newspapers, sent letters to the churches to make women move to the west. Some of them set the price and, yes, they actually moved there and married their husbands who paid money for this. Consequently, men really bought wives and wives really sold themselves to their future husbands.

The new wave

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The new wave was when not only women from the USA started to move to the west to marry locals and become mothers of their children. Men too understood that a mail order bride could be much cheaper, literally cheaper. Foreign agencies located in Asia could literally sell a girl to a rich guy by “sending” her to his country. He paid the bill (the price started from 10.000 USD) and got a girl. The agencies even replaced her if a guy wanted to divorce his old wife and get the new one. Yep, sounds pretty weird, not to say awful. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore history.

So why are we telling you about this? Because we want to provide you with the info that will help you understand WHY people think that mail order brides are illegal. They associated this business with the scheme that we described above. In other words, they think that this practice is still alive and wonder how this may be legal in our time. The answer is simple – it can’t.

Modern times

So the very term ‘mail-order bride’ has two meanings: the old and the new one. The old term means exactly what some people think it means – a woman who gets married for money. But who are mail order brides now?

Today, women don’t sell themselves neither to agencies nor to men directly. In most cases, they are regular women living in one of the not so developed countries. Most of them have jobs, family, and friends in their countries, so they wouldn’t probably leave their home, but there is something that makes them do it – they want to find love and have a family. Yes, it’s this simple.

In fact, each of them has her own reasons to move, but this is the most generalized reason. Some of them are disappointed in men they met at home, some are divorced, some live in poor countries where men can’t provide for the family, and a woman just can’t afford to have children, etc.

These women look for mail order bride agencies, find them and start to cooperate with them to find a good match in another country. Please note that they are looking for a guy to date him, and not to marry him immediately. Consequently, these are the mail order bride services that are provided by lots of companies worldwide. Some top agencies also provide tourism services by arranging real meetings, but no one pays for marriage itself. A woman decides if she wants to marry a man or not. So, today this business isn’t about an official agreement between two parties – it’s about legitimate relationships between two people.

IMBRA – The important regulation act

It may seem that mail order bride sites and agencies are perfectly legal, so there’s nothing to talk about. However, only the relevant info can help a man or a bride herself protect themselves against most threats. The first and the most crucial act to take into account is the so-called IMBRA (International Marriage Broker Regulation Act.) No, it doesn’t prohibit this kind of business and relationships in the US, but it still sets two important requirements.

According to them, all men who want to marry mail order brides have to provide brokerage services (mail order bride agencies) with such data as a certificate of criminal record, financial info (in particular, the bank statements that are supposed to show that a man can provide for the family), marital history, and credit information. All this data must be provided to a bride before she gets married to this man.

Of course, this act was developed not only to make men provide their info. Agencies or brokers, in turn, must also provide mail-order brides with the information on their rights, organizations that can help them in difficult situations, and so on and so forth.

VAWA – Act Aimed At Protecting Women

Another important act is VAWA (Violence Against Women Act.) According to it, all immigrants who became victims of domestic violence can apply for a green card independently. Of course, this protects the bride. If a girl meets a nice man who seems kind and loving and then understands that he’s an abuser, she doesn’t have to suffer for years to stay in the US. Generally speaking, this act is crucial just because it makes this business much safer and more popular. This makes both men make a conscious decision. A man needs to understand that mail order brides are not slaves anymore, and he can’t do anything he wants with his wife because she doesn’t want to return to her country. Thus, this industry is not so attractive for “tyrants” anymore, and that’s the great news because it can really change the way people perceive MOBs and their husbands.

What kind of visas are given to foreign women?

The most common type of visa is a K-1 visa or a fiancé visa. A K1 (Fiancé Visa) is issued to a non-American citizen who wants to marry a US citizen and live in the USA permanently. The whole process of getting a K-1 visa is rather complicated. One should submit a petition and prove that there is an intention to marry their fiancé within a period of 90 days of their entry to the US. This visa is valid for 90 days, and after that, it expires on its own. A mail order bride should either get married and remain in the country or leave the United States. Doing otherwise is breaking the US immigration law.

A bride can get a K-1 visa if: she has a man in the United States whom she can legally marry; the reason to travel to the United States is to get married; the marriage is supposed to occur within the next 90 days; the time of communication between the bride and the American citizen was more than 2 years. It takes around 8–10 months to get a K-1 visa.

If you wish to marry a foreign woman who has a child, that child will receive a K-2 visa. A child should be below 21. A child’s mother should be a K-1 visa candidate. It takes around 4–6 months to get a K-2 visa. And that is basically it. There is also a K-3 visa, which makes it possible for a spouse of an American citizen to come to the United States in the category of a nonimmigrant visa while the visa holder waits until they can apply for legal permanent residence status. It takes around 6–9 months to get a K-3 visa.

How many foreign brides moved to the United States?

Right now, there are detailed statistics on mail order brides who came to the United States in 2019. Here are the most popular countries with mail order wives:

  • The Philippines—7,134 brides
  • Vietnam—1,782 brides
  • China—1,135 brides
  • Mexico—1,676 brides
  • Dominican Republic—1,270 brides
  • Brazil—1,065 brides
  • Colombia—1,014 brides
  • Russia—815 brides
  • Ukraine—860 brides

How things work in 2024

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Let’s sum up everything we’ve learned from the information provided above. We’ll also add some facts that help understand some important nuances of this business. All this data can convey a more specific and comprehensive picture of this industry.

  1. The misconception that this business is illegal can be explained by some historical facts.
  2. Yes, men could purchase a bride, and a bride could sell herself a few centuries ago, but today, it’s nearly impossible.
  3. There are two meanings of the word ‘mail order bride’, the old and the modern one. Consider this when talking about modern brides.
  4. Modern brides choose this path for various reasons (which are mostly related to breakups and heartbreaking experience), green card or just money aren’t good reasons to move thousands of miles away from home anymore.
  5. Modern agencies and websites provide dating services. That’s the crucially important, core thing to take into account.
  6. Some of them focus on messaging, video chats, letters, i.e., on communication services only. Some of them also arrange tours, send gifts, i.e., work as global online stores and travel agencies as well. And again, there’s nothing related to selling people.
  7. Men and brides are dating before they get married. Moreover, they meet each other before they make this step. Today, both parties are interested in happy family life and in nothing else.
  8. The term ‘cost’ which is often applied to such brides doesn’t mean the cost of a girl – it means the total cost of all dating services and other expenses.
  9. Women who became victims of domestic violence don’t need to stay married to apply for a green card.
  10. Men need to provide info about themselves to brokers. If men choose global mail order bride sites, rules are less strict.

These are the crucially important things about the industry. So, what conclusions can we drive from all these facts?

Final thoughts

It may seem that all the problems like social disapproval, worries, and doubts arise only because most people don’t know how the industry really works, and well, that’s true. Some of them think that the rules that worked a few centuries ago still work in 2022. We cannot blame them for this – after all, there are tons of myths and stereotypes that are still alive because people just don’t check the information. And again, it’s in human nature. The best way to learn the truth is to consider all the aspects.

From the historical perspective, mail order brides are the social phenomenon that has changed dramatically. The thing is it was the legal business a few centuries ago when women sold themselves. It was also legal in the beginning and the middle of the 19s century where agencies sold women (especially Asian girls). It became illegal when people realized that selling people is, well, a bit immoral. However, at this time it was gradually becoming legal because of the changes in the dating industry, i. e. because mail order brides were not the girls for sale anymore – they become long-distance girlfriends. We think that’s a fantastic change.

Today, there are some acts that regulate this business. However, they don’t make it illegal. Moreover, a lot of agencies operate as mail order bride websites, and most importantly, they really are mail order bride websites. So, if you want to find a foreign girlfriend, you shouldn’t worry about getting in trouble with the law.

How to find a legit mail order bride?

Find a legit dating site, create an account there, browse through profiles of available girls, send messages to brides you like, and build relationships.

Is online dating legit?

Yes, online dating is absolutely legal and ethical. Although you may see the phrase ‘to buy a mail order bride,’ it has nothing to do with human trafficking or anything illegal. It is just an expression that means to spend money on communication with fine foreign women online.

How much does it cost to marry a foreign mail order bride?

It mostly depends on the site you are using and what goals you are pursuing. If you want to find a bride as quickly as possible, you may spend a lot of money. But on average, 1 month of communication online could cost you around $40-100.

Why do women become mail order brides?

There may be many reasons why girls from foreign countries become mail order brides. Most ladies decide to seek serious relationships online to find a better life in a different country. Others just don’t want to date and marry local guys. But all mail order brides are looking for love and happiness!

How to find a legit dating site?

Research websites, look for articles and reviews, and ensure that you have enough information about a site you want to use. Once you have enough data and are sure that a site is reputable, you can find a legit mail order bride there.

Mark Manson
Lead Author
Mark Manson is a renowned dating coach who has helped thousands of individuals around the world improve their dating lives. His approach to coaching is unique, in that he focuses on the individual rather than on specific techniques or formulas.