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Are mail order brides still a thing?

That’s the most common question I have to field anytime Jack and I tell our story.

Considering over 21,000 women1 received K-1 fiance visas in 2022, which are typically reserved for mail order brides, I’d say they are very much still a thing, and their popularity doesn’t wane despite the pandemic, migration crisis, and other global and national issues.

Today, I’ll answer all your questions, like “What’s a mail order bride?” and “How do I get a mail order bride?” based on personal experience and years of research.

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Mail Order Bride Meaning

What is a mail order bride? Since the 19th century, Americans sought foreign women to become their wives because the country was expanding too fast while the population growth failed to satisfy the demand for workers. The term refers to letters published in American and European newspapers that helped single men and women connect across the Atlantic and negotiate the terms of their future marriages through mail.

In the 21st century, the mail order bride meaning shifted to accommodate the current reality. Mail order brides are women seeking marriage with successful men from the US, Canada, the UK, the EU, or Australia. Most of them rely on online dating sites and apps to find their matches. However, unlike the first mail order wives, modern women have the option to get to know their husbands, share video calls, and meet in person before making any life-altering decisions.

In my experience and from what I heard from fellow international brides, the mail order bride definition is often used with a negative connotation. Despite the success rate of international marriage, horror stories get more attention, and foreign brides are often considered gold-diggers, scammers, or con artists, even when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

How Do Mail Order Brides Work?

Regardless of how you define mail order brides, getting one of them works much like any other form of online dating. In my experience, the biggest difference lies in intent. Whereas most Tinder and Bumble users are looking for hookups or casual arrangements, mail order husbands and brides focus on establishing serious, long-term relationships that lead to marriage, sooner or later. Typically, it involves several steps:

  1. Men and women create online dating profiles with an international marriage agency, mail order bride platform, or an international dating site.

  2. They specify their partner preferences, including appearance, lifestyle, and habits, and search for compatible matches manually, using search filters or relying on matching algorithms.

  3. Potential partners get in touch via email, live chat, video calls, or other means to learn more about each other and decide if they have enough in common to start a relationship.

  4. Most singles focus on one or two potential matches and develop their relationship over several months before both parties are comfortable with a face-to-face meeting in one of their respective countries or on neutral ground.

  5. The first meeting typically spans a few days to a couple of weeks while the couple gauges their compatibility and adjusts to IRL dates. Come couples decide on several shorter visits before confirming that their relationship can progress.

  6. Once the man is sure he has found his match comes the proposal and the drawn-out legal process of acquiring a K-1 fiances visa. 

After foreign brides enter the US, they have 90 days to get married. Otherwise, they may be deported. 

That’s how I met Jack, but the process may be a bit different. For example, a mail order bride service may operate as a matchmaker to speed up the search. And if you go with a destination wedding, you won’t need a K-1 visa.

Why Do Women Look for Foreign Husbands?

What makes mail-order brides seek partners abroad? Jack asked three real mail order brides (one of them is a mail order wife now) why they wanted to find a foreign man on a mail order bride website. Here’s what they told to him.

daria profile
Met on SofiaDate.com

I wanted to try something new. I have always been interested in American culture, and I decided that meeting a man from the US would be an interesting experience, so I created an account on the top mail order brides site. It’s not about money or quality of life. I don’t think that there are a lot of mail order wives from Ukraine who want to find a rich American man. A stable man, a caring man, yes, but it’s not like we’re gold-diggers or something.

yssabella profile
Met on SakuraDate.com

As some Asian mail order brides want to flee their countries because of economic reasons, this is the same case for the Philippines. I personally think that Americans and Europeans are very smart, handsome, and interesting… And much more family-oriented than Filipino men. If a Philippino girl wants to build a serious relationship, I believe foreign men are the best option.

milena profile
Met on LatiDate.com

I always, like ALWAYS heard from my friends and even my family that Americans are this, Americans are that, Americans know how to date and how to make a girl happy, all that stuff. So even though I wasn’t 100% confident, somewhere deep inside, I knew that Western guys are more caring and respectful than our local men. And it turned out that I met on LatiDate the most loving and kind man in the world there, so all those stereotypes were true!

As you can see, foreign brides have different motivations. Some are eager to improve their social standing and financial prospects and are open about it. Others are enamored with American men and their lifestyle. Yet the majority of real mail order brides are merely disappointed in relationships with local men and expect better from Western guys. Still, you shouldn’t worry about unrealistic expectations when marrying foreign women, as they value love, care, and devotion more than your wallet, your house, or your car.

How to Get a Mail Order Bride?

There’s more than one correct answer to where to get a mail order bride. Let’s go over the three most time and cost-effective options and consider their benefits and drawbacks to help you decide which one suits your needs best.

Mail Order Bride Platforms

Unlike mainstream dating apps and sites, mail order brides services specialize in connecting singles who are serious about long-term relationships and marriage, which increases the odds of finding compatible partners quickly and with minimum fuss. At the same time, most niche platforms are limited to a single country or region, such as Latin America, Asia, or Eastern Europe. That can be a blessing as much as a curse unless you have a type and know exactly who you want your future wife to be.

Most mail order bride services run profile verification (via ID and/or video) to ensure all users are who they say they are. Beyond that, members are free to explore the singles catalog, chat, and develop relationships through various communication tools available on the platform.

I met Jack through such a platform, so I may be biased, but I consider them to be the most effective way of establishing serious international relationships. Even if the label seems a bit weird at first, knowing that everyone you meet looks for the same things you do is a relief. 

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International Dating Sites

More and more mail order brides opt to forego niche platforms and rely on international dating sites instead. They have the benefit of hosting a larger number of singles than you’d see on a mail order bride platform, and they are typically not limited to a single country or region.

With large audiences comes extra revenue, and international dating sites are free to invest it in fresh user interfaces or exciting new features. That’s the primary reason why they are easier to use and look more modern compared to mail order bride platforms. They are also more likely to incorporate advanced communication tools, like video chat or automatic translation software. The pricing is often extra convoluted, too, especially if there are multiple subscription tiers. 

On the downside, international dating services rarely screen members, even if they have anti-scam policies in place. Moreover, a large portion of daters on such platforms are looking for new acquaintances, friendships, and flirting, not long-term commitment. As a result, finding your future wife can be challenging.

In my experience, international dating sites are fun and exciting, but finding compatible matches takes more time than on niche platforms. Still, they are worth a try, especially if you’re in no hurry to settle down.

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Marriage Agencies

Offline matchmaking and marriage agencies were a staple of the mail order bride industry for decades, until online dating platforms took over. Still, the most resilient agencies survived and adapted to digitize and enhance their services. Like mail order bride platforms and international dating sites, marriage agencies collect your personal data, but instead of leaving you to scour through the dating profile catalog, they use sophisticated algorithms to create a short list of likely candidates. You can then assess their profiles to further narrow down the choices. 

After that, the marriage agency sets up communication channels and supervises your progress until you’re ready for a face-to-face meeting. The agency will also take over travel arrangements to bring you and your future wife together. 

Considering the services rendered and the number of people involved, marriage agencies are undoubtedly the most expensive option. But they can also be extremely efficient if your budget allows for the extra expenses.

Let’s see how these three approaches compare based on their major benefits and drawbacks.

Pros & Cons of Each Option

Type of platform👍 Pros👎 Cons
Mail order bride platforms➕ Most singles are interested in marriage and serious relationships
➕ Dating profiles are rich with personal details and photos
➕ Each platform is focused on one region (Asia, Eastern Europe, or Latin America)
➖ There’s always a risk of running into scammers
➖ Photo and video filters may misrepresent the appearance
➖ Members are charged for every private communication
International dating sites➕ Large multi-national dating pools for daters of all ages
➕ Advanced communication tools, including video messages and calls
➕ Most offer matching and other advanced dating tools
➖ Online romance scams are a real risk
➖ Language barriers and time differences can be problematic
➖ Some users may not be interested in long-term relationships
Marriage agencies➕ Tailored search with minimum effort
➕ Vetted singles with a low risk of running into scammers and fakes
➕ No monthly subscription or credit purchases
➖ The most expensive of the three options
➖ Limited dating pool compared to other approaches
➖ No control over direct communication

What Is the Best Country to Find a Mail Order Bride?

I could tell you that Ukrainian mail order brides are the best, considering I was one of them. But only you can find the answer, as each nation has its unique mentality and character, which are represented in different ways in mail order brides.

Mail Order Bride Statistics

Numbers say way more than words, so let’s take a look at mail order bride online statistics.

Facts About Mail Order Brides
#1Mail order marriages are less likely to end in divorce—the divorce rate in marriages between American men and Russian women is between 35.8%-41.3%, while the overall US divorce rate was 48% at the time when the survey was conducted.
#2According to a survey, most mail order wives are in their early 20s.
#3Mail order brides and international marriages are more common than you think. 1 out of 5 married-couple households in the US has at least 1 foreign-born spouse.
#4The stereotype about mail order wives wanting to have more children than American women is only partially true. The fertility rate in some popular mail order brides countries, like the Philippines and Venezuela, is much higher than in the US, but in Ukraine, Japan, and Brazil, the TFR is even lower than in the United States.
#5Some countries are much more popular than others. The number of Filipina mail order brides, for example, is larger than the number of mail order brides from Europe or South America.

So now you know more detail about legit mail order brides and can make your decision based on pure facts.

How to Invite Your Bride to the US?

Once you find a mail order bride and propose, you’ll have to jump through the hoops to get her to the States. The process is pretty drawn-out and unnecessarily complicated, but you can break it down into a few manageable chunks:

Form I-129F
Start by filing Form I-129F online or through the local USCIS office (the fee is $535).
Visa application
Help your foreign bride file Form DS-160 (her visa application) through her local embassy or consulate (fees depend on the country) and follow instructions.
Medical examination
Guide your mail order bride through a medical examination (fees vary).
Form I-134
If the consular office requires it, file Form I-134 Declaration of Financial Support to help your fiance receive her visa.
Form I-485
Help your future wife file Form I-485 to receive permanent residence or adjustment of status (the processing fee is $1,140, but you’ll also need to pay $85 for biometric service).

Your mail order bride may enter the US within six months of receiving her K-1 visa, so you’ll need to organize her move and shipping arrangements. Once she’s in the States, you’ll have only 90 days to marry to satisfy the terms of her visa. To learn more about the process and required fees, visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. I found it pretty helpful to organize my wife’s move from Ukraine to the US.

How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship With a Mail Order Bride Work?

The grass is always greener… When you’re in a committed relationship, sometimes you want to take a break, but when your future mail order wife is halfway across the globe, you’d give anything for an actual date. It’s up to you both to keep the relationship going, but I have a few tricks I’d like to share.

First, do things together, even when you’re miles apart. Read a book and discuss it, or watch an episode of your favorite show or a new Netflix release together. It will give you a sense of belonging that’s so lacking in long-distance relationships.

Next, put your heads together to set up a schedule. You may not have the option to chat daily, but having several short calls throughout the weeks with one or two longer cyber dates will keep you connected without turning your relationship into a chore.

Finally, talk it out. No one likes talking about relationships and feelings, but open communication is much better than suppressing anger or resentment until it festers and blows up in an argument. Set some ground rules about your relationship and talks, and stick to them if you’re serious about getting married. 

Do’s & Dont’s

💙 Have a plan for most of your virtual datesDraw out small talk when you have nothing to say
💙 Decide on an end date for the long-distance part of your relationshipLet your relationship turn into a bothersome routine
💙 Experiment with sexting, erotic calls, or sex toysDo things you wouldn’t want your partner to see on social media

Author’s Take

The mail order bride industry is very much alive, even if modern mail order brides are different from the poor women forced to leave their countries to marry Americans in the early 1800s. They are ready to take charge of their destinies and seek love and happiness with foreign men across the world.
If you’re willing to embrace the challenges of international dating, you have multiple options to choose from. I suggest you try international dating sites and mail order bride platforms first, as they offer free registration and let you explore with zero risk to your wallet. Jack and I are living proof that international online dating works, and if our story doesn’t convince you, think of thousands of international couples who get married in the US every year.

Sources of Information

  1. travel.state.gov ↩︎
Anastasia May
Writer & Jack's Wife
Hi! I’m Anastasia May, your writer, author, ex-mail order bride, and wife of the UsMailOrderBrides' creator.

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