International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005
Saturday, January 21, 2006 10:15 AM

The International Marriage Broker Act of 2005 represents a strong stance against the unlawful practice of domestic violence and on protecting immigrant women. In a 1999 report, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that the 200 IMB firms operating in the United States have led to the acquisition of a foreign spouse by as many as four to six thousand U.S. citizens, who are overwhelmingly male. The immigrant women, often known as "mail order brides," often come from economically disadvantaged countries in Eastern Europe or South Asia and suffer a lack of information about their future spouse, especially critical information like criminal background. Once inside the United States, these women are prime targets for domestic abuse, a serious human rights violation, due to their isolation in a foreign country, their unfamiliarity with U.S. laws and agencies, and potential language barriers. A fear of deportation or retaliation from their spouse further limits the woman's options to seek help for domestic abuse.

IMBRA allows the foreign national client of the IMB to take more control of her impending marriage by providing information on the U.S. citizen, including his marital and criminal history if applicable, and prohibiting the release of personal information of the client to the U.S. citizen until she has reviewed the information and knowingly gives her consent. IMBRA also requires the U.S. government to provide information to the foreign national client, in her own language, on the U.S. laws against domestic abuse, sexual assault, and child abuse and service providers to victims of such crimes. Furthermore, since many men often apply for several foreign fiance visas and marry whomever is approved first, IMBRA also prohibits the simultaneous application for multiple foreign fiance visas. Inspired by the 2001 strangulation death of IMB client Anastasia King at the hands of her spouse, IMBRA will enhance and protect the rights of immigrant women coming to the United States to marry.     

IMBRA is part of the Violence Against Women Act 2005 (VAWA 2005), which President Bush signed into law on 5 January 2006.

Compiled from: "Hot Topic: International Marriage Broker Regulation Act", Amnesty International USA, January 2006; VAWA 2005 Immigration Provisions, Legal Momentum, 18 December 2005 (PDF, 6 pages).