Law Is Stranger Than Fiction | Episode 7 Immigration Dating

Good afternoon and welcome to Law is Stranger than Fiction. I’m Steven Bergman.

Barry: And I’m Barry Scholl. We’re shareholders at the Salt Lake City law firm of Richard Brandt Miller Nelson and today our special guest is Barbara Melendez,head of our immigration law department, who’s gonna answer the question, what do you do when the US government puts a damper on your love connection? Barbara?

Barbara: Well thank you. There is a way that the US government can put a damper on your love connection, specifically if you’re online dating and you happen to fall in love with a foreign.

Steven: And okay, so when you mean your online dating, lots of people do online dating.

Barbara: Yes they do, 40 million Americans.

Steven: Okay so is it any online dating site?

Barbara: It’s any online dating site where you pay a nominal fee whether it’s for the app or whether it’s for access on a monthly basis to potential matches that fall into this law called IMBRA which is the international marriage brokers Regulation Act.

Barry: Now I understand from anecdotally that this is really a growth industry all ages in same-sex couples  and heterosexual couples is that right.

Barbara: Absolutely we’ve seen a 10 percent growth annually in all ages of young adults to older adults who are having or accessing online dating whether it’s through their phone or through their computer to meet their significant other.

Steven: Well how many marriages what percentage of marriages we’re talking about are a result of online dating?

Barbara: 7% of all marriages in 2015 were the result of online dating and 20% of all couples who are currently in committed relationships met through online.

Steven: So a fairly significant number of people. That’s a hunk of love.

Barbara: That’s a lot of people.

Steven: Okay so you go on to one of these websites, you meet the love of your life, he or she is from Europe or Asia or wherever it might be, and you want to get married. So you’re gonna run into this problem with IMBRA. What do you do?

Barbara: First you file what would be a fiancee visa and then as you’re processing the fiancee visa through immigration, that’s where IMBRA steps in because the government requires you to discuss how the two of you met, what your plans are, and the moment you discuss that you met through an online, wait up, dating website or ape. The issue of IMBRA steps in, did you pay a fee? If so, how much? Was it a monthly? Was it an app fee? And that falls into the category of, was this, in fact, a marriage broker site?

Steven: So simply meeting somebody online can get you into immigration trouble?

Barbara: Falling in love with somebody and filing for the fiancee visa is the one that triggers IMBRA to step into your life.

Steven: Okay and how do you prove the site isn’t an international marriage broker site.

Barbara: Huh, well it’s up to you to prove it because remember the burden falls on you to prove to the government that this is not a site. The first thing you have to prove somehow is this was just a nominal fee. That you didn’t really go on this site just to meet foreign nationals and you have to show them through a series of documentation that this, in fact, is not an international marriage broker site.

Steven: This is fascinating. So if you find yourself falling in love with somebody from overseas that you met through a dating web site you might want to contact an attorney, such as the attorneys at Richard Brent Miller Nelson in Salt Lake City and for now this is…

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