Blog, stories and articles on personal issues and challenges faced by South Asians and Non Resident Indians (NRIs)

How to marry an NRI, safely

NRI Divorce >> Legal Information, Tips and Guide >> This Section

Prompted by the increasing incidents of girls who marry non-resident Indians being ill-treated, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India has drawn up guidelines for people who want their daughters married abroad.

The ministry has sent a booklet -- Information Booklet on Marriages to Overseas Indians -- to state governments asking for feedback.

The booklet, which will soon be widely distributed, contains precautionary measures Indian families need to take when a marriage proposal arrives from an NRI.

The booklet says a high number of NRI marriages end up a disaster for the women.

Some typical instances, cited by the booklet:

  • The woman marries an NRI who abandons her even before she is taken to the country where her husband lives. After a short honeymoon, he leaves India, promising to send a ticket soon. Most likely, the woman is pregnant when he leaves. So, both she and the child are abandoned. He never calls or writes and never returns.
  • The woman arrives in the foreign country, only to realise her husband will not show up.
  • The woman travels to the foreign country but returns within a year. Either she is sent back, or forced to flee. She is not allowed to take her child(ren) along. In many cases, the child(ren) is/are forcibly taken away from her.
  • The woman travels to the foreign country, only to be assaulted and abused, mentally and physically, malnourished, confined and ill-treated.
  • The woman learns later that the NRI had given false information -- on any or all of the following: His job, immigration status, earning, property, marital status and other material particulars -- to con her into marriage.
  • The woman or her parents are held to ransom for payment of huge sums of money as dowry, both before and after the marriage.
  • The woman learns later that the man she had married was already married in the other country to another woman, whom he continues to live with.
  • The woman's husband obtains a divorce from her in the foreign country, without her knowledge.
    The woman is abandoned in the foreign country with absolutely no support or means of sustenance or escape and without even a visa to stay on in that country.
  • The woman goes to court for maintenance or divorce but repeatedly encounters legal obstacles related to jurisdiction of courts, service of notices or orders, or enforcement of orders.
  • The woman is coaxed into travelling to the foreign country and gets married there. She later discovers that Indian courts have even more limited jurisdiction there.
  • What precautions can a girl or her parents take to avoid such trauma?

The ministry booklet offers help:

  • Do not finalise marriages long distance -- on phone or through e-mail.
  • Do not blindly trust any bureau, agent, tout or middleman.
  • Do not ever agree to forge papers or enter into any fake transactions for any reason or on any pretext.
  • Do not fall for any migration schemes, or promises for a green card, through marriage.
  • Do not finalise matters in secrecy -- publicising the match among family and friends could help you get vital information which you may not be able to collect otherwise.
  • Do not agree to have only a registered marriage or to getting the marriage solemnised at a far off place.
  • Do not agree to the wedding being held in the foreign country.
  • Check the groom's following documents: Visa, passport, voter or alien registration card, social security number, tax returns for the last three years, bank account papers and property papers.


  • The Indian embassy in the foreign country (The booklet provides contact details).
  • The groom-to-be's employer.
  • Local Indian associations and networks of Indian citizens.
  • Friends and relatives in that country.

Insist on the following:

  • Registration of the marriage, along with a social ceremony.
  • Doing all the paperwork for the issuance of the visa and other required formalities at your end and not at his. Keep all the original papers with yourself.
  • An affidavit from the man stating his marital status.

Some other tips the booklet provides:

  • Have regular and meaningful communication with the man and his family over a period of time.
  • Make sure the bride and the groom meet personally and interact freely and frankly in a comfortable atmosphere -- as many times as they feel necessary -- so that they can make up their minds.
  • Rely on your gut feel and communicate this if you sense anything is amiss or wrong.
  • Publicise the marriage and have a social marriage ceremony.
  • Arrange for a bank account for the woman in the foreign country so that she can withdraw money in an emergency.
  • There are a number of other dos and don'ts listed in the booklet, which the ministry wants every family that wants its daughter to marry an NRI to follow.

Officials at the ministry, who finalised the booklet, say the government also plans to amend existing laws to make registration of all marriages involving Indian brides and NRI grooms compulsory. - From Rediff

NRI DivorceŽ 2006-2010