A "mail-order bride" is a term often used to refer to a woman who joins a service that is designed to set her up with a man from another, generally more developed, country. The "mail-order" title refers to the fact that such women used to publish their personal details in catalogs that foreign men could look at. Today, however, a typical "mail-order bride" would go through an online matchmaking service.
Many mail-order brides come from countries such as Russia, the Philippines, and the Ukraine. These countries are fairly poor, and many women long for a better life in a more economically developed country, such as the United States, Canada, or Australia. The men who are interested in such a bride are often relatively wealthy men who have been divorced, or have not had success with women in the past. In many cases, they decide to pursue a woman from a less developed country because they believe that such women will be submissive to them, as opposed to the more independent women from their home countries. They also frequently choose brides that are significantly younger, often by as much as 20 or 30 years.
Though in the past, a mail-order bride may have gone to marry a man that she had never met before, today, there is typically a courtship process involved. Normally, a man who is interested in finding this type of bride will buy a membership with one or more agencies that will allow him to meet and communicate with foreign women. He will then travel to the country where the agency is based, and meet with many of the women there. He can go on private dates with the women that he is interested in, and can even propose marriage. Women may be selective, and do not have to marry the first man who asks; however, many do, simply because they want to leave their homeland.
Problems with mail order marriages have brought close scrutiny to the mail-order bride movement in the United States, and a law signed into action in 2006 called the "International Marriage Broker Regulation Act" imposes strict enforcements on a man who pursues a mail-order bride. For example, he must disclose his criminal and marital background, he will be checked for sex offenses, and the woman must agree to communicate with each specific man who wishes to contact her.