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Mail-order bride

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Mail-order bride is the term often used to describe women who come to the United States from foreign countries after only correspondence or short meeting with their eventual mate. Probably originating during the colonial period when men travelled through various empires for financial gain. After establishing their income in the new colony they faced three choices: (1) stay single, (2) marry a local indigenous woman or, (3) seek to have an available women come from the metropolitan center; or in the case of economic immigrants that came from an economically depressed region[?] to seek employment, from their mother country. Often these marriages were arranged by members of the immigrants family 'back home' and the relatives picked amongst available women to find one that would suit their family member thus they would negotiate with the woman before she left with her belongings (and perhaps with her children if she was a widow). Often these woman were willing to travel for marriage because of the limited opporutunity in their native habitat. This tradition continues amongst first generation immigrants to the United States today and other countries most particularly amongst East Indian males and females who wish to marry someone of similar social, economic and educational status; indeed many marriages are arranged in India and the bride and groom many not have much if any opportunity to court before the marriage ceremony is conducted. See arranged marriage.

During the twentieth century this tradition has been used for a similar, but very different social phenomenon[?], that of an American male, usually second or third generation immigrant himself, seeking a woman from a more 'traditional' or non-western culture[?]. For whatever reason, these men seek out women from various countries, most notably economically depressed parts of the world, such as countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the other central asian -stans[?], or from cultures where passivity is still encouraged and women are expected to take care of their husbands and engage in housekeeping, child rearing and other domestic chores. The internet has led to a proliferation of services offering addresses, contact information and romance tours to men willing to pay for information about women who have expressed interest in relocating to various marriage agencies in their native countries. This has also lead to internet relationship scammers similar to the Nigerian 4-1-9 scam requesting advance fees but usually for the purpose of helping sick aged relatives based upon sending photos of young models in skimpy clothing, often by men who hire a young girl to sit by the telephone and wait for the marks to call requesting them to sent their money via Western Union. Some relationship scammers sometimes become involved in a sham marriage[?] or green card fraud[?] where at least one of the parties has no real intention to be married but the marriage is only entered into so that the non-American spouse can obtain a visa, work permit[?] and permanent residence[?] in the United States. Though most of the women who enter these marriages convince their future husbands that they are sincere as the formalities of sponsoring an overseas spouse through the family immigration[?] process is complex and time consuming and immigrating to the United States often requires them to quit secure, if low paying, jobs and to forfeit subsidized housing in their home country.

These men often correspond by mail or email with these woman, speak with them over the telephone with the use of translators and eventually after exchanging photos visit the women's country to decide if an engagement is possible. Often after very short courtships the men propose to the women, as they must return home to return to work hire a lawyer to prepare the visa paperwork. In some cases it may be possible for the woman to travel to the United States after applying for a tourist visa at the United States Embassy in their home country. However the State Department has made it very difficult for young single women to obtain tourist visas to the United States from many countries because of the high rates of visa fraud[?] and thus, their only opportunity to come to the United States is by obtaining the sponsorship of a potential spouse or employer. In the mail-order bride scenario the male will visit the country on a wedding trip to meet his future bride and propose to her (and in some cases marry if consular processing is allowed) so that they may return to the United States.

The former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) now the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services[?] (BCIS) reports that approximately 17,263 visas for fiancees were issued in fiscal 2001, about 7988 coming from Asia and about 4714 coming from Europe which includes the all of the Former Soviet Union states. These fiancees undergo medical examination and police background checks before being allowed to enter the United States. I f they do not marry their American citizen fiance they are required to return to their country of origin and are prohibited from adjusting status[?] if they marry anyone but the fiance who originally petitioned for their entry. The estimate is about 35% of these immigrants return to their country after determining that the marriage or their immigration to the United States or both will not succeed. It is further estimated by the INS that a majority of the remaining fiancees are divorced within five years. Often these women complain of difficulties adapting to American culture. The appear to be much more strong willed than their American husbands believed, as the myth of these women being passive is often incorrect especially those from the former Soviet Union where while women were and remain economically disadvantaged from their male counterparts the Marxist and Soviet values under which they were trained often makes them more assertive and independent that their feminist American counterparts. Often these men do not have the skills to deal with the complexities of a multi-cultural relationship and the marriages fail, though some are successful.

This phenomenon also occurs in Canada and in western European countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom.

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