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INS Act of 1996

Pub. L. 104-208 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996


(a) FINDINGS.-The Congress finds as follows:

(1) There is a substantial "mail-order bride" business in the United States. With approximately 200 companies in the United States, an estimated 2,000 to 3,500 men in the United States find wives through mail-order bride catalogs each year. However, there are no official statistics available on the number of mail-order brides entering the United States each year.

(2) The companies engaged in the mail-order bride business earn substantial profits.

(3) Although many of these mail-order marriages work out, in many other cases, anecdotal evidence suggests that mail-order brides find themselves in abusive relationships. There is also evidence to suggest that a substantial number of mail-order marriages are fraudulent under United States law.

(4) Many mail-order brides come to the United States unaware or ignorant of United States immigration law. Mail-order brides who are battered often think that if they flee an abusive marriage, they will be deported. Often the citizen spouse threatens to have them deported if they report the abuse.

(5) The Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates that the rate of marriage fraud between foreign nationals and United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence is 8 percent. It is unclear what percentage of these marriage fraud cases originate as mail-order marriages.


(1) REQUIREMENT.-Each international matchmaking organization doing business in the United States shall disseminate to recruits, upon recruitment, such immigration and naturalization information as the Immigration and Naturalization Service deems appropriate, in the recruit's native language, including information regarding conditional permanent residence status and the battered spouse waiver under such status, permanent resident status, marriage fraud penalties, the unregulated nature of the business engaged in by such organizations, and the study required under subsection (c).


(A) VIOLATION.-Any international matchmaking organization that the Attorney General determines has violated subsection (b) shall be subject, in addition to any other penalties that may be prescribed by law, to a civil money penalty of not more than $20,000 for each such violation.

(B) PROCEDURES FOR IMPOSITION OF PENALTY.-Any penalty under subparagraph (A) may be imposed only after notice and opportunity for an agency hearing on the record in accordance with sections 554 through 557 of title 5, United States Code.

(c) STUDY.-The Attorney General, in consultation with the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization and the Director of the Violence Against Women Initiative of the Department of Justice, shall conduct a study of mail-order marriages to determine, among other things-

(1) the number of such marriages;

(2) the extent of marriage fraud in such marriages, including an estimate of the extent of marriage fraud arising from the services provided by international matchmaking organizations;

(3) the extent to which mail-order spouses utilize section 244(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (providing for suspension of deportation in certain cases involving abuse), or section 204(a)(1)(A)(iii) of such Act (providing for certain aliens who have been abused to file a classification petition on their own behalf);

(4) the extent of domestic abuse in mail-order marriages; and

(5) the need for continued or expanded regulation and education to implement the objectives of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 with respect to mail-order marriages.

(d) REPORT.-Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall submit a report to the Committees on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and of the Senate setting forth the results of the study conducted under subsection (c).

(e) DEFINITIONS.-As used in this section:


(A) IN GENERAL.-The term "international matchmaking organization" means a corporation, partnership, business, or other legal entity, whether or not organized under the laws of the United States or any State, that does business in the United States and for profit offers to United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, dating, matrimonial, or social referral services to nonresident noncitizens, by-

(i) an exchange of names, telephone numbers, addresses, or statistics;

(ii) selection of photographs; or

(iii) a social environment provided by the organization in a country other than the United States.

(B) EXCEPTION.-Such term does not include a traditional matchmaking organization of a religious nature that otherwise operates in compliance with the laws of the countries of the recruits of such organization and the laws of the United States.

(2) RECRUIT.-The term "recruit" means a noncitizen, nonresident person, recruited by the international matchmaking organization for the purpose of providing dating, matrimonial, or social referral services to United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Read More => Report to Congress - Press Release
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