Business Booming in the Recession
While businesses are letting go of employees, or even closing their doors, the business of mail-order brides, now known as the international matchmaking industry, is booming. In the age where online dating has been tried by just about everyone, even if they won’t admit it, the idea of finding a match from another country is not as uncommon as it used to be. While some will say it is a form of human trafficking, the men and woman finding love and a match from another country will disagree.
As part of the multi-billion dollar U.S. online dating industry, the international matchmakers are becoming a major player, and many business owners are thanking the recession. The co-founder of A Foreign Affair, John Adams, estimates his company sparked 1,000 engagements last year. He goes on to say, “Men evaluate their lives a little more closely when the economy becomes more difficult.
They look at what’s really important to them and try to find that one person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.” John Adams, while being the co-founder of A Foreign Affair, is also their best marketing tool. He met his wife Tanya in 1997 at one of the social events in St. Petersburg which his company had organized. So, when customers ask if it really offers success, John is the perfect example.
However, finding that special lady through A Foreign Affair does not come without a price. They charge $4,000 for their customers to attend “socials” in Eastern European cities. While the cost for the socials is one thing, there are also monthly charges for membership fees to enable you to ‘shop’ for your bride, and these usually run about $30/month. If your perspective ‘match’ does not speak English, then there are also companies that will charge between $6 and $8 dollars per email to translate the words of love, and the charge for phone or instant message translations is even more.
As with just about any online based industry today, the mail-order bride trade has not escaped the numerous scams that the internet can provide. Most seem to come from agencies not based in the U.S., and they usually involve the agencies that promote fake profiles, charge outrageous prices for translation, and even impersonate women to ask for money.
With all the questions about it being safe for these ‘brides’ to come to the states, many people question if the men do this to gain power over a potential bride or a submissive woman who will obey. Coming to a new country, where she does not speak the language, could leave her very vulnerable to abuse and not knowing how to report it. In response to some publicized murders of brides brought to the U.S., the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA) was passed.
This act requires background checks of all U.S. citizens before they are allowed to communicate directly with any potential ‘bride’ through an international matchmaker service. Those that do not provide this check will not be able to obtain a Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiance). Unfortunately, with many people these days meeting on social network sites such as Facebook, a couple could always say they met that way, and avoid the IMBRA completely.
Even with the cost and the laws that must be followed, the online dating industry and the international matchmaker services are making a million, or multi-billions, as the case may be. They have definitely given a new name to dating and have completely changed the image of a mail-order bride. No more need for mail-order bride catalogs when you have internet, a web-cam, and a Buy it Now button.