Tuesday, September 22, 2020


Article Index

H. Implementation of IMBRA

One problematic aspect of IMBRA's implementation is the government's failure to implement its provisions for at least two years after it was enacted. While the burdens on American citizens and IMBs were in place, the government agencies responsible for implementing IMBRA failed to ensure that information being collected from the IMBs and their American clients was being properly analyzed and distributed to foreign women in such a way as to protect them from potential abuse.

In a 2008 study, the Government Accountability Office found that agencies had only implemented some of the Act's requirements. The Department of State had failed to mail a copy of approved petitions to each beneficiary, increasing the chances that beneficiaries were deprived of relevant information about the American citizen. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had not been checking all petitions to determine if an American petitioner had previously filed a fiancé(e) petition. USCIS had also not been notifying beneficiaries if the petitioner was filing a third petition within 10 years of the first petition. In addition, the government had not provided beneficiaries with pamphlets discussing the visa application process and the available resources for victims of domestic violence. The pamphlet had not been finalized, translated, or distributed. As a result, beneficiaries were left without all the information required by IMBRA and were therefore unable to protect themselves from potential abuse.

It is disheartening that after more than two years, the one component of the Act that would provide the most important protection for foreign women-- information about their rights and domestic violence resources in the United States--had not been implemented. If the government aimed to help women, rather than regulate men, it should have focused immediately on implementing these requirements.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law