I-129F, Dating Websites And The International Marriage Broker Act
Did you met on a dating website? After submitting an I-129F Fiance petition, USCIS wants to know if the dating website is an International Marriage Broker (IMB), or ironclad documentation proving that it's not.
Like many couples, the first contact you had with your foreign fiancee may of been on a dating website.
On the I-129F petition for a fiance it asked; Did you use the services of an International Marriage Broker? And, you answer no. Then, in your letter of intent to marry you say you met for the first time on a dating website.
Here's what happens next...
You receive a Request For Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. They want to know the circumstances under which you and your fiancee met to establish the relationship.
The RFE says something like this...
The evidence submitted indicates that you may have met the beneficiary through the services of an International Marriage Broker (IMB). You stated that you met the beneficiary through a "dating website".
Although your answer on the I-129F petition indicates that you did not meet through the services of an International Marriage Broker, you did not establish that the dating website is not an international marriage broker. As such, you must submit a copy of the signed written consent form that the International Marriage Broker obtained from the beneficiary authorizing the release of her personal contact information to you, or documentation to establish that the website is not an international marriage broker.
Matchmaking Agencies Considered Dating Websites
The “marriage broker” issue comes from requirements that Congress added to the immigration laws with the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA). Congress was concerned that so-called “mail-order” spouses (who meet through the services of an international matchmaking agency) are especially susceptible to domestic violence and abuse at the hands of their U.S. citizen petitioners (sponsors).
What is an International Marriage Broker (IMB)?
Defined as an entity that charges fees for providing dating, matrimonial, matchmaking services or social referrals between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. International marriage brokers are in business to put American citizens in contact with foreigners wishing to immigrate to the United States. They’re a sort of dating or match-maker service, though typically their purpose for providing such services is to facilitate immigration.
The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) is a federal statute that requires background checks for all marriage visa sponsors and limits serial visa applications. Additionally, the law requires background checks for US citizens using marriage brokerage services focused primarily on providing dating services between US citizens and foreign nationals for a fee.
IMBRA Offers Protections
The moving force for the law were two cases in the 1990's in which foreign women had been abused and eventually murdered by men who had used an I-129F petition to bring them to the United States. IMBRA was intended to stop abuse of foreign women by prospective husbands with criminal histories.
IMBRA requires U.S. citizens petitioning to sponsor K visas to disclose convictions for a list of violent crimes on the “I-129F” petition form that they file with DHS, including convictions for domestic violence and assault and battery, as well as convictions for elder abuse, child abuse or neglect, stalking and multiple (three or more) convictions for offenses related to alcohol/controlled substances.
Requirements For International Marriage Brokers
- Search sex offender public registries for information regarding the United States client.
- Collect certain criminal and marital background information through documentation from the United States client.
- Provide to the foreign national client any records retrieved from the sex offender public registry search and the background information collected provide in the foreign client's primary language.
- Provide to the foreign national client a government-prepared information pamphlet about the legal rights and resources available in the U.S. to immigrant victims of domestic violence and other crimes.
- Obtain the foreign national client’s signed, written consent to the release of the foreign client's information to the United States client.
Limits on Fiancé(e) Visa Petitions
Petitioners with violent criminal records are barred from serial sponsorship. IMBRA limits a US petitioner’s sponsorship of K1 (fiancé(e)) visas to 2 total, with no less than 2 years between the filing of the last approved I-129F petition and the current petition. A petitioner may seek a waiver of these limits from DHS. However, DHS cannot ordinarily waive the limits if the U.S. petitioner has a record of violent criminal offenses.
Dating Websites Exempt From IMBRA
There are reputable online dating websites exempt from IMBRA requirements and are not considered to be “mail order bride” or match-maker services. A dating website that does not provide personal contact information. Does not serve mainly to provide international dating services between U.S. citizens and foreign residents only, and that charges similar rates to use the website to men and women, will not be considered “an international marriage broker” for the purposes of IMBRA.
If you met on a dating website and submit an I-129F, USCIS will want proof that the dating website is not an international marriage broker to comply with IMBRA.