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Mail order bride services and brokered marriages are not something unusual or mystic today; a lot of people have already created their own love stories with the help of these sites. However, many men still wonder if it is really possible to find your soulmate online on a dating platform and are mail order spouse illegal or not?
Are mail order spouse illegal in the Latin America and the USA
Currently, mail order brides are legitimate in most parts of the world. Latin America is the second most popular place after Asia for finding a foreign wife. Today there are several popular methods to meet and marry a Latin woman. The first one is traditional: just organize the trip, come to her home country, and date her. And the second way, which is used the most, is to register on the online dating platform and find a perfect match. Each of these methods to meet your ideal mail order bride will be legal.
According to statistics in 2019, 8,430 foreign brides entered the United States from Latin countries (this is a quarter of the total number) and received K-1 and K-3 visas, which also answers the question — are mail order brides legal. Most of the brides who have crossed the border and entered the United States are from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Brazil, and Haiti.
The legal regulation of mail order brides in the USA
In the United States, mail order brides services are legal and regulated by International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The main goal of IMBRA is to provide applicants (a foreign partner of a resident of the United States) with accurate information about the immigration process and requires the United States government to provide protection for those that find themselves victims of domestic violence following their immigration. The basic provisions of this act are:
- Requiring data verification - IMBRA requires all the petitioners to get a background check.
- Submitting a marriage broker report - if you met your fiance online, you will have to inform the USCIS that you met through International Marriage Broker (IMB).
- Stopping serial petitioners - every petitioner can apply for K-1 Visa only 2 times in a lifetime, without getting a waiver.
The main goal of VAWA is to provide protection and support to women who have suffered violent abuses. This act included provisions pertaining specifically to mail order brides entering the USA.
If you are looking for your partner online, you should pay attention to whether the service you are using has IMB status. If not, it will be your responsibility to provide supporting documents that prove that this site isn't an IMB to the USCIS. If you don't do this, the USCIS has a chance to suspect it is; you will receive a request for evidence or even rejection of your I-129F (K-1 Fiancée Permit). Failure to complete the IMBRA forms can result in US Immigration denying the couple's application. So are mail order spouse illegal in the USA? The answer is certainly no.
The process of marriage with a Latin American spouse
Every country has its own legal regulations and requirements for the process of marriage, especially between a foreigner and a citizen of this country. Let's look at the three most popular countries in Latin America to find a legitimate mail order bride and marry her — what documents are needed for this process, fees, and other equally important nuances.
Getting married in Mexico
As in the United States, the requirements for documents and the registration process are different in each state in Mexico. Therefore, the best option for obtaining complete information on the procedure for registration, requirements, and required documents would be to contact the General Civil Registry Office of the state where you are planning to get married. In Mexico, the only legally recognized are civil weddings. Religious weddings also take place in this country, but without a civil component, they won't be legally effective. If a man who is a US citizen wants to get married to a Mexican national, you will need to prepare a package of documents:
- Valid passport
- Birth certificates
- Mexican entry documents
- The appropriate certificate if one or both partners is widowed or divorced
- Medical certificate
- Prenuptial Agreement
The cost of the registration process in Mexico is approximately US $200, and this price includes: fees for the civil ceremony, for obtaining permission to marry a Mexican and fees for performing a marriage at the Office of the Civil Registry.
Getting married in the Dominican Republic
The Offices of Civil Status of the Dominican Republic can process a marriage request from any citizen of the world. Marriages in the Dominican Republic can be contracted in a civil or religious ceremony that is legally recognized and permitted. If a United States citizen wants to marry a Dominican national, then he must provide:
- A Valid passport and copies
- Payment of a fee
- Tourist card
- Birth certificate
- Last entries stamps
- Declaration of being eligible to marry
- Two witnesses, but not family members
All of these documents are required to be notarized and translated into Spanish. Additionally, if one of the couple is not a resident of the Dominican Republic, it is required to pay a fee. For example, civil marriage at the Civil Registry Office is US $170, while the marriage outside the office will be US $250.
The process of marriage with a Colombian national
Like in the USA and the Dominican Republic, Colombia has two types of legal marriages: religious ceremony, handled by individual religious officials or civil marriage, performed by a Colombian official. The marriages must be registered at a notary's office. When a foreigner is getting married to a Colombian national, the following documents are required.
- Valid passport and valid visa
- Birth Certificate
- Certificate if one or both partners is divorced
- Proof that you are single
All documents are required to be translated by an official translator into Spanish. The next step is to choose the notary and learn more about the information required because each certifier can request different documents for the process of marriage. Finding a notary may take some time, as it is crucial to choose a reputable one.
Marriage with a Latin American spouse in the USA
If a US citizen wants to marry a Latino American woman, this can be done after receiving the K-1 visa. There are 2 main types of permits for foreign fiances — K-3 and the so-called "fiancé visa" K-1. According to statistics, of the 8,430 brides who arrived from Latin America in 2019, 5 people arrived on a K-3 visa, the rest on a fiance visa, issued to applicants to marry the United States citizen in his country. K-1 Visa permits a foreign fiancé to travel to the United States and only after the petition's approval, to get married. The requirements for applying for this type of visa are quite strict and may take some time. However, if a couple follows the rules, collects all necessary documents and pieces of evidence, this process will be relatively easy. Here is the step-by-step guide to receiving a visa:
- Filling and sending the petition form. It is required for a U.S. citizen sponsor to fill out and file the Form I-129F. The filing fee is $535. After USCIS approves the petition, you will receive a case number, and the NVC will send your petition to U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Applying for a visa. After receiving the confirmation letter, you will be able to get ready for an interview and apply for this visa. It's one of the most important steps because you and your foreign spouse will have to collect all the required documentation and prepare for an interview. Following documents and forms are required: completed form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application; a passport, which is valid to travel and stay in the United States; birth certificate; divorce or death certificate; police certificates; medical examination; evidence of financial support; two 2x2 photographs; evidence of relationship; US $265 payment of visa fee. You need to provide your fiance with I-134 form to present at the interview.
- Complete medical examination with the embassy-approved doctor before the review and get the vaccinations required under U.S. immigration law.
- Receive interview date and time.
- Interview. After all of these steps are done, your fiance will go through the K-1 visa interview with the embassy.
- Approval of the interview. The embassy issues your fiance's K-1 visa after the interview was approved. Usually, the duration of this process takes 1-2 weeks.
- Your fiance travels to the United States. Once the visa is ready, your fiance is allowed to travel to the United States within 6 months.
The duration of receiving a visa depends on many factors. If you carefully follow all the instructions and supply the required documentation, your case won't be delayed. After you receive a visa, you will have to get married within 90 days officially. In general, the process of receiving a visa is not complicated, but the most crucial part is your preparation with your partner.
After getting married, you and your fiance will still need to do some paperwork. You can file the Employment Authorization Document - Form I-765 and apply for a permit so that your fiance can work legally in the United States. Before applying for a green card, you and your fiance should collect evidence that your marriage is legitimate. You will also have to file the I-485 form to adjust your fiance status to a permanent resident, including the $1,140 filing fee; this is also called a green card. As well, you will have to file the Social Security Card, which is required for many legal documents.
To sum up
Thus, today, marrying a legit mail order bride and moving her to your home country is regulated by many acts and laws and are completely legal. Due to this, the number of transnational marriages is increasing, and marrying a foreign woman is no longer a problem today.
- 1Are mail order spouse illegal in the Latin America and the USA
- 2The legal regulation of mail order brides in the USA
- 3The process of marriage with a Latin American spouse
- 4Getting married in Mexico
- 5Getting married in the Dominican Republic
- 6The process of marriage with a Colombian national
- 7Marriage with a Latin American spouse in the USA
- 8To sum up