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IMBRA 2006 implementation?

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I have recently recieved this news letter from another visa company and it totally freaked me out!

It seems that they are classifying a normal dating site, (which is how many of us met ) as a International Marriage Broker and thus these special rules apply, I knew nothing about it, but the question is on the K1 form, i think #35, anybody out there heard about this, or is this newsletter scaremongering?

USCIS Cracks Down on IMBRA Violators

The International Marriage Broker Act of 2006 has been a dark cloud on the horizon for men and women in long distance relationships who met online at dating websites.

The law puts draconian restrictions on how an American is allowed to meet his partner when using an online dating service. Basically every dating service, regardless of where located in the world, is supposed to comply with this regulation if they have American clients. To follow the act’s regulations, the dating service must obtain written, and detailed consent from the foreign born person, before ANY form of direct communication with the American is possible.

This confusing act requires the American to provide confidential information about himself to the website. The foreign born “date” then views the confidential information, after translation to her/his native language, and finally must sign and date a document, with all this information, if agreeing to allow communications to begin.

When this onerous law came out in 2006 some companies like mine, HeartofAsiaonline.com converted our websites to fully comply with the law. This meant that clients from US and overseas found many more hoops to jump through in order to join our membership to be able to find and meet their foreign loves. By following the law, my company lost $ thousands each month, as clients gravitated to websites with easier registration and contact procedures.

Many other companies abandoned the business altogether. And many companies and businesses especially the majority of non-US based services decided to ignore the law. Ignoring the law has paid off for companies such as Cherry Blossoms, Filipino Cupid and so on. For the past 9 years they have continued to collect good US dollars while scoffing at the IMBRA regulations.

Has not been a problem till NOW

Up to now this hasn't been a problem for dating services or their clients, as the IMBRA laws have not been fully enforced. However USCIS has been gradually implementing inch by inch some of the procedures as mandated by IMBRA.

A BIG CHANGE during the past Three months

The most recent turn of events has been implemented three months ago. Now each time a fiancée visa petition is submitted to USCIS and the couple confirms they met at a online dating website USCIS has been stopping processing on their case and sending the following request for evidence (RFE) to the couple.

USCIS demands Proof of Compliance

Here is a sample of the demand text, that USCIS sends applicants who are under scrutiny for IMBRA violations.

The evidence in the file reflects that you met the beneficiary through the services of an International Marriage Broker (IMB). You stated you met the beneficiary through XXXXXX. This website is considered to be an International Marriage Broker as it is a business that charges fees for providing, dating, matrimonial, matchmaking services. or social referrals between United States citizens and foreign nationals. Therefore, you are required to 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. The decision of whether to approve or deny your petition will be based upon the type(s) of evidence submitted and its credibility.

This is quite a problem when the majority of websites have ignored the law. And now the couple (not the website) are in trouble for not complying with IMBRA.

I have helped draft various answers to these requests. Sometimes we can produce the consent, sometimes we deny that the website is an International Marriage Broker, and sometimes we say we used an IMB that did not follow the rules. All of the couples I have worked with, none yet, have had their petitions denied due to using a non IMBRA compliant dating service.

Just a matter of time

I believe it is just a matter of time till USCIS takes the next logical step and denies the visa applications of those who violated US law by using websites that violated IMBRA.

I suggest any couple who has met at a dating website should confirm with the administrator of that website whether IMBRA rules were followed or not and if followed obtain written proof.

And of course for any American now going online to find his partner from overseas I strongly suggest you only join dating services that are IMBRA compliant.

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*** Thread moved from K-1 Process forum to the IMBRA subforum. ***

See many recent, relevant threads therein.

06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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