Since 1991, Russian women have been the fastest growing group to be targeted for the United States mail-order bride business. Over 65 companies in the U.S. advertise services of this sort on the Internet alone.
Usually, men flip through catalogues or peruse videos which contain pictures of Russian women who are attractive by Western male standards. The men will then pay upwards of $10,000 to travel to Russia to meet with the women they have selected, and then choose one to travel with them back to the U.S.
Neither the U.S. or Russia monitor these services in any way. Due to reports of domestic violence and other human rights violations, including the 1995 murder of a pregnant mail order bride by her husband, Congress asked the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1996 to outline regulations on the industry.
The INS has yet to deliver what Congress has requested. “We asked the INS to give us a report on an issue that’s enormously important and they’ve dragged their feet,” said Jon Leibowitz, an attorney for Sen. Herbert Kohl, D-Wis. who worked on the legislation.
The exact number of arranged American-Russian marriages is not known. However, the number of “fiancee” visas used to bring Russian mail-order brides to the United States has risen from 17 in 1991 to 1,012 in 1997.