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

NRI weddings: The reel and the real

They provided themes for Bollywood hits but in real life, NRI weddings may not be the proverbial bed of roses. Nearly two in every ten NRI marriages are faked or end up in a divorce, cautions a legal counsellor from Fermont, USA, who is here to lobby for an Indian law to protect the victims of NRI marriages and financial frauds.

Anu Peshawaria, who is running a legal NGO Seva in California, has already approached Union Law Minister H R Bharadwaj who, she says has promised to support her efforts.

“We have approached the Law Minister and informed him about the situation in USA, where the cases of frauds in NRI marriages, which result in domestic violence, are increasing and he has promised us full support,” Peshawaria told PTI.

Citing some recent cases, she says “A man married his daughter-in-law to bring her to the US. But later started misbehaving with her. The woman then approached them for redressal. But all her papers were fake.”

In another case, she says the husband divorced the wife, who was on an H-4 visa. She had to immediately leave the country but did not want to leave behind her child who was only six weeks old.

“Walk in marriages and walk out divorces are very common and acceptable in the American society. But for Indian girls, facing such a situation is very difficult,” says Peshawaria, noting “cases of Indian girls stranded at airports because the husband does not turn up are very common.”

In many cases, girls, just to get a green card, marry Indian Americans and later divorce them, she says, noting “A number of NRI marriages last only for two years, the time needed to get a green card. Many times, people even have kids to make it seem like a real marriage. This is also creating a population of ‘abandoned’ children.”

The problem of faked marriages for getting a green card in America is very common among illegal immigrants. Out of a total of 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, nearly one million are Indian, she says.

“These people are very vulnerable, especially after 9/11 when security laws have become very strict and the identity of each and every person living there is being probed. “Any one found faking an identity is detained.”

Peshawaria, who would be conducting seminars here on these issues, says “The immigration agents here do not know much about the laws here. Marriage is not the only passport to America. There are lot of other ways of going… work visa is easily available these days.”

“And for those, who plan to get married to a guy in the US, there is the fiancee visa, she can go there and visit him and find out for herself about the person,” says Peshawaria adding “when a girl is left alone there, she has the right to file a petition in the court, called VAWA.

“There is a need to create awareness among Indians who wish to immigrate, about all these issues. The Indian Government till now has not been very pro-active. But since the relations between the two countries are improving, some treaty could be signed or understanding reached on these issues as well,” she says.

NRIs being of the Indians citizen diaspora, are subject to Indian marriage and divorce laws. Thus there is need to address the flaws in the law and make punishment more stringent.

“The importance of antecedent verification, awareness of women’s matrimonial rights, maintenance rights, dowry laws and information about passport and visa procedures should be made available and regular awareness campaigns conducted to make people aware of these frauds.”

Peshawaria suggests free legal aid to parents wishing to marry their daughters to NRIs or PIOs. Wherever necessary, efforts should be made to get the guilty extradited back to India.

The Hindu

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