On a serious note, foreign bride seekers from the US that are looking for a woman to marry in Russia and the FSU may encounter references or discussions about IMBRA during their search. What does this mean and how could it effect you?
IMBRA stands for International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. It was a law passed back in 2005 intended to address human trafficking issues and to provide some protection to foreign brides that marry American men from abuse. The impetus for such a law came from a few highly publicized cases in which foreign brides ended up being murdered by their husbands.
Whether or not foreign brides are more prone to being victims of abuse or homicide committed by their husbands more than their American counterparts to justify passing this law was hotly debated. There hasn’t been any good data or information that would suggest that abuse is more prevalent in a relationship if the wife happens to be a foreigner. However, there are legal precedents that suggest people must be able to make informed decisions and that includes being made aware of the risks and consequences of certain decisions. This precedent also carries over in my profession where volunteers need to be properly informed of their rights and the risks for volunteering in clinical trials. There must also be due diligence that the person is making the decision willingly and not while under duress. We call this informed consent. This due diligence also ties into identifying people that are a part of a vulnerable population in order to get informed consent. Vulnerable populations include people that might not be 100% aware of the decision they are making and its risks or whether they are making the decision freely. Vulnerable populations may include minorities, foreigners, children or other people who wouldn’t know English well enough or have been in the USA long enough to understand their rights granted by our legal system. This would also include foreign brides; even ones that can speak and understand English fluently. I have no doubts that a lot of these legal precedents are what facilitated passage of the law and allowed it to withstand the legal challenges against it in the courts.
None of this meant that people liked it. This is the government deliberately sticking its nose into the private affairs of two consenting adults without just cause. It presumes that every American man that seeks a bride overseas is guilty of being a violent abuser or even a killer. It is also an attempt to regulate an industry overseas. Many believe the US government overstepped it’s authority to placate various NGO’s that have been indoctrinated by feminists, the very feminists that have compelled American men to seek a bride overseas in the first place. Many such men see this as a first step in an attempt to make foreign bride seeking illegal or to make the barrier so high as to prevent them from choosing a foreign bride as an option.
Realistically, IMBRA has no teeth nor is it inflicting an overwhelming burden. IMBRA basically means that a company in the marriage brokering industry (aka the Mail Order Bride industry) must do a background check on American men that seek to use their services and show the results to the foreign woman when initial contact is made. The foreign woman still has the choice to proceed or refuse contact. This has provided a burden to marriage brokers causing them to speak against the law, but lately they have learned to use IMBRA as an appealing measure to their female clients as a demonstration of concern for their safety. It builds trust between the agency and it’s female clients.
IMBRA only regulates marriage agencies or other services that deal in matchmaking in exchange for payment. IMBRA wouldn’t include sites that just post personal ads, even if they are exclusively foreign based. It sounds like it may be hard to tell the difference, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Most of the sites I’ve seen have an FAQ about IMBRA which should answer this. Or you can contact the ownership directly and ask. The reputable sites will have contact information that includes an address and phone number (not just an email address). If you’re still not sure, then you can always say you met your RW during a vacation trip that you decided to take on your own when it’s time to apply for her visa. The government is going to do a background check on you anyways when you sponsor her visa application.
To be honest, if IMBRA screens out the violent and abusive men, then I call it a win. It might make the RW more comfortable about dating American men and increase our reputation. But if the background check reveals restraining orders, then this might be a problem. Sometimes restraining orders are issued as part of a divorce; When a woman wants to evict a man from the house, claiming abuse or a fear for her life is the only legal way for her to do this, even if the man is completely innocent. My only hope would be that foreign women and the marriage agencies understand this peculiar institution that is American family law. But this shouldn’t close the door entirely to such men. You can still meet RW without going to a broker.