Tahirih Justice Center applauds U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for its Oct. 27 release of a vital fact sheet regarding the legal rights and resources available to immigrant victims of domestic violence in the United States.
USCIS was mandated to issue this potentially lifesaving information by the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) a law enacted in January 2006 as part of the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act. The fact sheet’s release, though more than four years after the statutory deadline, marks a significant milestone in IMBRA’s implementation, and Tahirih is deeply grateful to USCIS for this achievement.
The fact sheet will reach approximately 30,000 foreign fiancé(e)s on K-1 visas and 14,000 foreign spouses on K-3 visas who come to the United States each year, and it will be a powerful tool to prevent violence and avert needless tragedies.
IMBRA regulated the fast-growing industry of international marriage brokers (commonly referred to as “mail-order bride agencies”), providing critical information to foreign brides about the criminal histories of their prospective American spouses, informing them of their legal rights and of resources available to them if they are abused, and making changes in the foreign fiancé(e) and spouse visa application process to prevent abuse and exploitation by serial predators.
Tahirih led the national coalition that drafted and advocated for the passage of IMBRA, and has repeatedly pressed USCIS to finalize and release this critical Fact Sheet. Tahirih also mobilized dozens of domestic violence advocates nationwide to weigh in with suggestions about how to improve the Fact Sheet when USCIS released an earlier draft for public comment. Tahirih praises USCIS for taking careful account in the preparation of the Fact Sheet of the critiques and insights provided by Tahirih and other experts.
Tahirih remains concerned, however, about other lagging aspects of IMBRA’s implementation – including the lack of an effective enforcement process against international marriage brokers that fail to comply with IMBRA’s regulations. Tahirih will continue to work with the national coalition to urge the government to fully implement and enforce IMBRA to protect the thousands of foreign brides and their children who immigrate to the United States each year.