Intermarriage: Changes following the Immigration Act of 1965


Intermarriage: Historical Patterns of Immigration

The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendment of 1965 brought sweeping changes to immigration policy, including the elimination of the quota system. Family reunification was now among the highest preferences for legal migration and put foreign spouses second in line after children of American citizens. This new amendment opened the door for foreign-born immigrants fromnations that were barred in 1924. Consequently, Latin American and Asian immigration surged dramatically.

During the early 1970’s, American citizens gained the right to petition for their fiancés to be issued nonimmigrant K-1 visas, which permitted fiancés to visit the United States for periods of up to ninety days they actually married. By this time, family reunification was a driving force in qualifying for immigration, but it was causing consternation among some Americans who feared that sham marriages, or “marriages of convenience,” would proliferate as a means of avoiding the stricter immigration regulations applying to other categories of immigrants. As a result, the Immigration and Marriage Fraud Amendments (1986) made permanent residency a conditional status that required later proof of marriage validity. Ten years later, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 codified the responsibilities of American citizens who sponsor aliens.

In 2000, the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, or LIFE Act, amended the rules for K-1 visas by permitting citizens and permanent residents to bring their spouses and children to the United States under a long-term resident category. Although this amendment raised some concerns regarding the potential for dramatic increases in immigration, it was also seen as a method of easing family dislocations, improving immigrant assimilation, and aiding social and cultural integration.

Throughout American history, men have used long-distance correspondence to find spouses, also known as mail-order brides, in other countries. Modern technology—most notably the World Wide Web and the Internet—and marriage brokers have increased this practice as a legitimate method of migrating to the United States.

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