H.R. 2949 (108th): International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003

108th Congress, 2003–2004. Text as of Jul 25, 2003 (Introduced).

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HR 2949 IH

108th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2949

To regulate international marriage broker activity in the United States, to provide for certain protections for individuals who utilize the services of international marriage brokers, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 25, 2003

Mr. LARSEN of Washington (for himself, Mr. KIRK, and Mr. INSLEE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on International Relations, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To regulate international marriage broker activity in the United States, to provide for certain protections for individuals who utilize the services of international marriage brokers, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003’.

SEC. 2. LIMIT ON CONCURRENT PETITIONS FOR FIANCE(E) VISAS.

    Section 214(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(d)) is amended--

      (1) by inserting ‘(1)’ before ‘A visa’; and

      (2) by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(2) A United States citizen or a legal permanent resident may not file more than 1 application for a visa under section 101(a)(15)(K)(i) in any 1-year period.’.

SEC. 3. INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE BROKERS.

    Section 652 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C. 1375), is amended to read as follows:

‘SEC. 652. INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE BROKERS.

    ‘(a) FINDINGS- Congress finds the following:

      ‘(1) There is a substantial international marriage broker business worldwide. A 1999 study by the Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated that in 1999 there were at least 200 such companies operating in the United States, and that as many as 4,000 to 6,000 persons in the United States, almost all male, find foreign spouses through for-profit international marriage brokers each year.

      ‘(2) Aliens seeking to enter the United States to marry citizens of the United States currently lack the ability to access and fully verify personal history information about their prospective American spouses.

      ‘(3) Persons applying for fiance(e) visas to enter the United States are required to undergo a criminal background information investigation prior to the issuance of a visa. However, no corresponding requirement exists to inform those seeking fiance(e) visas of any history of violence by the prospective United States spouse.

      ‘(4) Many individuals entering the United States on fiance(e) visas for the purpose of marrying a person in the United States are unaware of United States laws regarding domestic violence, including protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, prohibitions on involuntary servitude, protections from automatic deportation, and the role of police and the courts in providing assistance to victims of domestic violence.

    ‘(b) DEFINITIONS- In this section:

      ‘(1) CLIENT- The term ‘client’ means a United States citizen or legal permanent resident who makes a payment or incurs a debt in order to utilize the services of an international marriage broker.

      ‘(2) CRIME OF VIOLENCE- The term ‘crime of violence’ has the same meaning given the term in section 16 of title 18, United States Code.

      ‘(3) DOMESTIC VIOLENCE- The term ‘domestic violence’ means any crime of violence, or other act forming the basis for past or outstanding protective orders, restraining orders, no-contact orders, convictions, arrests, or police reports, committed against a person by--

        ‘(A) a current or former spouse of the person;

        ‘(B) an individual with whom the person shares a child in common;

        ‘(C) an individual who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the person;

        ‘(D) an individual similarly situated to a spouse of the person under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction where the offense occurs; or

        ‘(E) any other individual if the person is protected from that individual’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the United States or any State, Indian tribal government, or unit of local government.

      ‘(4) FOREIGN NATIONAL CLIENT- The term ‘foreign national client’ means a non-resident alien who utilizes the services of an international marriage broker.

      ‘(5) INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE BROKER-

        ‘(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘international marriage broker’ means a corporation, partnership, business, individual, or other legal entity, whether or not organized under any law of the United States, that charges fees for providing dating, matrimonial, social referrals, or matching services between United States citizens or legal permanent residents and nonresident aliens by providing information that would permit individuals to contact each other, including--

          ‘(i) providing the name, telephone number, address, electronic mail address, or voicemail of an individual; or

          ‘(ii) providing an opportunity for an in-person meeting.

        ‘(B) EXCEPTIONS- Such term does not include--

          ‘(i) a traditional matchmaking organization of a religious nature that operates on a nonprofit basis and otherwise operates in compliance with the laws of the countries in which it operates including the laws of the United States; or

          ‘(ii) an entity that provides dating services between United States citizens or legal permanent residents and aliens, but not as its principal business, and charges comparable rates to all clients regardless of the gender or country of residence of the client.

      ‘(6) PERSONAL CONTACT INFORMATION-

        ‘(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘personal contact information’ means information that would permit an individual to contact another individual, including--

          ‘(i) the name, address, phone number, electronic mail address, or voice message mailbox of that individual; and

          ‘(ii) the provision of an opportunity for an in-person meeting.

        ‘(B) EXCEPTION- Such term does not include a photograph or general information about the background or interests of a person.

    ‘(c) OBLIGATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE BROKER WITH RESPECT TO INFORMED CONSENT- An international marriage broker shall not provide any personal contact information about any foreign national client, not including photographs, to any person unless and until the international marriage broker has--

      ‘(1) provided the foreign national client with information in his or her native language that explains the rights of victims of domestic violence in the United States, including the right to petition for residence independent of, and without the knowledge, consent, or cooperation of, the spouse; and

      ‘(2) received from the foreign national client a signed consent to the release of such personal contact information.

    ‘(d) MANDATORY COLLECTION OF INFORMATION-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- Each international marriage broker shall require each client to provide the information listed in paragraph (2), in writing and signed by the client (including by electronic writing and electronic signature), to the international marriage broker prior to referring any personal contact information about any foreign national client to the client.

      ‘(2) INFORMATION- The information required to be provided in accordance with paragraph (1) is as follows:

        ‘(A) Any arrest, charge, or conviction record for homicide, rape, assault, sexual assault, kidnap, or child abuse or neglect.

        ‘(B) Any court ordered restriction on physical contact with another person, including any temporary or permanent restraining order or civil protection order.

        ‘(C) Marital history, including if the person is currently married, if the person has previously been married and how many times, how previous marriages were terminated and the date of termination, and if the person has previously sponsored an alien to whom the person has been engaged or married.

        ‘(D) The ages of any and all children under the age of 18.

        ‘(E) All States in which the client has resided since the age of 18.

    ‘(e) ADDITIONAL OBLIGATIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE BROKER- An international marriage broker shall not provide any personal contact information about any foreign national client to any client, unless and until--

      ‘(1) the client has been informed that the client will be subject to a criminal background check should they petition for a visa under clause (i) or (iii) of section 101(a)(15)(K) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(K)); and

      ‘(2) the foreign national client has been provided a copy of the information required under subsection (d) regarding that client.

    ‘(f) CIVIL PENALTY-

      ‘(1) VIOLATION- An international marriage broker that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines has violated any provision of this section or section 7 of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003 shall be subject, in addition to any other penalties that may be prescribed by law, to a civil penalty of not more than $20,000 for each such violation.

      ‘(2) PROCEDURES FOR IMPOSITION OF PENALTY- A penalty imposed under paragraph (1) may be imposed only after notice and an opportunity for an agency hearing on the record in accordance with sections 554 through 557 of title 5, United States Code.

    ‘(g) CRIMINAL PENALTY- An international marriage broker that, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, violates any provision of this section or section 7 of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003 shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not less than 1 year and not more than 5 years, or both.

    ‘(h) ENFORCEMENT- In any case in which the attorney general of a State has reason to believe that an interest of the residents of that State has been, or is threatened to be, adversely affected by a violation of this section, the State, as parens patriae, may bring a civil action on behalf of the residents of the State in a district court of the United States of appropriate jurisdiction to--

      ‘(1) enjoin that practice;

      ‘(2) enforce compliance with this section; or

      ‘(3) obtain damages.

    ‘(i) STUDY AND REPORT-

      ‘(1) STUDY- Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003, the Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security, shall conduct a study--

        ‘(A) regarding the number of international marriage brokers doing business in the United States and the number of marriages resulting from the services provided, and the extent of compliance with this section and section 7 of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003;

        ‘(B) that assesses information gathered under this section and section 7 of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003 from clients and petitioners by international marriage brokers and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services;

        ‘(C) that examines, based on the information gathered, the extent to which persons with a history of violence are using the services of international marriage brokers and the extent to which such persons are providing accurate information to international marriage brokers in accordance with this section and section 7 of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003; and

        ‘(D) that assesses the accuracy of the criminal background check at identifying past instances of domestic violence.

      ‘(2) REPORT- Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit a report to the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives setting forth the results of the study conducted pursuant to paragraph (1).’.

SEC. 4. CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK.

    Section 214(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(d)), as amended by section 2, is further amended by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(3) A petitioner for a visa under clause (i) or (iii) of section 101(a)(15)(K) shall undergo a national criminal background check conducted using the national criminal history background check system and State criminal history repositories of all States in which the applicant has resided prior to the petition being approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the results of the background check shall be included in the petition forwarded to the consular office under that section.’.

SEC. 5. CHANGES IN CONSULAR PROCESSING OF FIANCE(E) VISA APPLICATIONS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- During the consular interview for purposes of the issuance of a visa under clause (i) or (iii) of section 101(a)(15)(K) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(K)), a consular officer shall disclose to the alien applicant information in writing in the native language of the alien concerning--

      (1) the illegality of domestic violence in the United States and the availability of resources for victims of domestic violence (including aliens), including protective orders, crisis hotlines, free legal advice, and shelters;

      (2) the requirement that international marriage brokers provide foreign national clients with responses of clients to questions regarding the client’s domestic violence history and marital history, but that such information may not be accurate;

      (3) the right of an alien who is or whose children are subjected to domestic violence or extreme cruelty by a United States citizen spouse or legal permanent resident spouse, to self-petition for legal permanent immigration status under the Violence Against Women Act independently of, and without the knowledge, consent, or cooperation of, such United States citizen spouse or legal permanent resident spouse; and

      (4) any information regarding the petitioner that--

        (A) was provided to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to section 7; and

        (B) is contained in the background check conducted in accordance with section 214(d)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by section 4, relating to any conviction or civil order for a crime of violence, act of domestic violence, or child abuse or neglect.

    (b) DEFINITIONS- In this section, the terms ‘client’, ‘domestic violence’, ‘foreign national client’, and ‘international marriage brokers’ have the same meaning given such terms in section 652 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C. 1375).

SEC. 6. INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE TO MONITOR AND COMBAT TRAFFICKING.

    Section 105 of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7103) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (d)(2), by inserting ‘and the role of international marriage brokers (as defined in section 652 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C. 1375))’ after ‘public corruption’; and

      (2) by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(f) MEETINGS- The Task Force shall meet not less than 2 times in a calendar year.’.

SEC. 7. BUREAU OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES.

    The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security shall require that information described in section 652(c) of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C. 1375(c)), as amended by section 3, be provided to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services by a client (as defined in section 652 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C.1375)) in writing and signed under penalty of perjury as part of any visa petition under section 214(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(d)).

SEC. 8. GOOD FAITH MARRIAGES.

    The fact that an alien who is in the United States on a visa under clause (i) or (iii) of section 101(a)(15)(K) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(K)) is aware of the criminal background of a client (as defined in section 652 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C. 1375)) cannot be used as evidence that the marriage was not entered into in good faith.

SEC. 9. TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.

    Section 214(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(d)) is amended by striking ‘Attorney General’ each place that term appears and inserting ‘Secretary of Homeland Security’.

SEC. 10. PREEMPTION.

    Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall preempt any State law that provides additional protection for aliens who are utilizing the services of an international marriage broker (as defined in section 652 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997 (8 U.S.C. 1375)).