: Our office recently completed a research study on many visa cases handled by us from Year 2000 to the present. The study results appear to tentatively suggest that marriage and relationship longevity rates for Latina-American "International Romance" marriages are numerically higher than what is usually seen in domestic marriages: marriage longevity rate 90%, relationship longevity over 75%. By implication, the study also suggests that divorce rates are correspondingly well lower than the often-cited domestic rate of 50%.
DISCLAIMER: This brief study is intended as a STARTING POINT ONLY for research and discussion. It is not a perfect study nor does is it based on an exhaustive database. For the raw data in support of the study, we used some but not all fiancee and spousal visa cases handled by our office for Latinas since 2000, including many DCF (Direct Consular Filing) cases in Colombia before July 2003 when the procedure effectively ceased for most U.S. citizens. We did not and could not include all such visas in our office, in part for privacy reasons, and in part because some clients moved, re-located, and otherwise lost contact. (For privacy and confidentiality reasons, we cannot disclose more than the name initials of anyone in the database.)
Further, we do not define (or even attempt to define, if even possible) what is a "successful" or "happy" marriage, one which some people describe as "working out". This is strictly subjective in our opinion and not subject to any reasonable quantifiable or qualitative measure. There are always a multitude of factors which affect what is a "successful" or "happy" marriage, such as personality attributes, age differences, compatability factors, communication skills, shared life values and marriage expectations, to name just a few. What we offer is simply some raw data which we openly admit is incomplete with a probably high margin of error.
But we think what we present here at least offers some opening opportunity to comment logically on marriage and relationship longevity rates in Latina-American marriages based on a numerical sample, however imperfect. And naturally, we challenge anyone to conduct and offer a "better" study based on more complete or reliable raw data, if available.
A FEW TENTATIVE CONCLUSIONS: Based on the incomplete raw data which is presently available to our office, the study results suggest:
1. Most of the marriages continue. Here are the numbers: 198 total cases in the raw database. Total Marriage dissolutions or divorces: 15 Broken down as follows: At One Year (or less):12. At Three years: 2. At Five Years: 1. Fiancee Visa Cases Where Couple Chose Not to Marry: 29. Of the 198 cases in the raw database, we subtract the 15 divorces plus 29 fiancee visa cases where the couple declined to marry which equals 44. The remaining cases where the couples have married and stayed together is: 154.
Thus, in the available database overall, there is: A. FOR RELATIONSHIP LONGEVITY, a ratio of 154/198 (198 is the total database of relationship cases) which means approximately 78% relationship longevity rate. B. FOR MARRIAGE LONGEVITY, a ratio of 154/169 (which is 198 relationship cases minus the 29 cases where couples chose not to marry under fiancee visa equals 169 marriage cases) which means approximately 90% marriage longevity rate.
2. Most marriage dissolutions occur sooner rather than later. Marriage failures in Latina-American marriages, when they happen, tend to occur quickly rather than slowly, usually within the first 12 months or less. Of the 15 total divorces in the database, 13 of them occurred in the first 12 months or less. Further, it appears that those couples who remain together longer are less likely to divorce. There is only one divorce at the 5 year mark, and two at the 3 year mark.
3. The Fiancee Visa helps to reduce divorce. The 90 day Fiancee Visa courtship period effectively helps to reduce potential divorces because some couples simply choose to not marry at all. This visa encourages couples to be more serious about the relationship and potential marriage commitment and to consider their options more slowly and deliberately. Of the 198 total cases, there are 29 cases where people chose not to marry at all, which probably prevented what otherwise might have been some additional divorces. An additional observation is that most couples, about two-thirds, choose to do a fiancee visa over a spousal visa (Totals: Fiancee 145, Spousal 53).
4. The challenges of long-distance courtship, inter-cultural relationships and visa waiting times tend to generate higher commitment levels to marriage. An argument can be made that stress factors might be higher in Latina-American marriage due to language and cultural differences. But we think that these same differences, together with the physical distance involved in the courtship and waiting times for visa, actually help to encourage couples to move slower and more deliberately in their marriage decisons and be more committed to each other and their marriage pledge. Thus, this may account for some of the reason for the apparant higher marriage and relationship longevity rates.