In March, a form change was required as a part of a new law that Homeland Security must enforce in part to protect foreign mail order brides from abusive American spouses. President Bush signed the new law into effect on January 5 and required the new forms to be ready by March 6, but Homeland Security missed its deadline and as such now more than 10,000 applications for visas for foreign brides or grooms are on hold.
The department needs to work through the old applications and new paperwork requests information on criminal and marriage broker issues. In order to live up to the letter and the spirit of the new Homeland Security provisions these forms are designed to protect women.
According to statistics, about 15,000 foreign women meet their American husbands through for-profit marriage brokers. Thise numbers appear to be on the rise. Congress, spurred by tales of foreign women from Eastern Europe and Asia being severely abused and even murdered by their new U.S. spouses, approved protections for foreign brides in December.
An amendment was added to the application form for fiancee visas in order to add the following questions:
- Was the romance arranged by an international marriage broker?
- Has the U.S. Citizen ever been accused of a violent crime or convicted of three or more alcohol or drug related crimes?
All fiancee applications received after March 6 were required to be shelved until the new forms could be ready. The new law has certainly brought about inconveniences, but all sides do agree that the law is in place to protect women and the kinks in the system need to be worked out. It’s hard to imagine that the number of mail order brides and more is on the rise, but the number of mail order brides currenly is 15,000 annually, give or take — yet from 1994 to 1999 the total number of mail order brides was only 30,000.
Do you think that the new law is a good thing and that it will help to protect potential brides?