The Hawaii International Matchmaking Organization (IMO) and IMBRA Rules

The state of Hawaii has brought to law the “International Matchmaking Organization (IMO)” rules. Men in Hawaii now need to submit fingerprints in order to fulfil the rules if they want to seek out a foreign wife from overseas. This is an extension to the existing USA IMBRA laws that is specific to Hawaii.  Individual US states are now taking up the charge in regulating so called “International Marriage Brokers” — and their statutes are more onerous than the federal legislation. Here is more info on the Hawaii law in addition to what I posted earlier:

Hawaii

What is the law’s citation?

Haw. Rev. Stat. 489N

When did the law go into effect?

January 1, 2004

What kinds of businesses are regulated?

International matchmaking organization   (IMO) – ―a corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, whether or not organized under the laws of the United States or any state, that does business in the United States and for profit offers to residents of this State, dating, matrimonial, or social referral services involving citizens of a foreign country or countries who are not residing in the United States, by:
(1) An exchange of names, telephone numbers, addresses, or statistics;
(2) Selection of photographs; or
(3) A social environment provided by the organization in a country other than the United States.

Are some kinds of businesses specifically excluded from regulation?

No. Hawaii regulates all IMOs without IMBRA‘s exceptions for cultural or religious matchmaking organizations and IMOs offering comparable rates and services regardless of gender/citizenship.

Is an official criminal background check required of the US male client?

Only if the foreign female client requests it. The IMO must inform foreign
female clients that criminal history record information is available. If the
foreign female client requests this information, the US male client must
submit fingerprints to the Hawaii criminal justice data center and request an
official criminal history record to be sent directly from the Hawaii criminal
justice data center to the IMO.

Must additional details on the US male client’s marital history be provided to the foreign female client?

Only if the foreign female client requests them. In addition to the marital
history information that IMBRA requires to be disclosed, at the foreign
female client‘s request, the US male client must also disclose the number of
domestic violence protective orders issued against him and whether any of
his previous marriages resulted from using the services of an IMO.

Must additional “basic rights” information be provided to the foreign female client?

No. No additional  ”basic rights” information must be provided beyond what IMBRA requires.

Must this additional information be translated into the foreign female client’s native language?

Yes. In addition to information that IMBRA requires to be translated into
her primary language, the IMO must translate into the foreign female client‘s
native language:

1) Notice that criminal history record information and marital history information regarding the US male client is available.
2) If she requests it, the criminal history record information regarding the US male client.
3) If she requests it, the additional marital history information regarding the US male client.

What limitations are placed on the IMO’s services until the additional criminal history, marital history, and/or “basic rights” information has been provided?

The IMO is required to provide notice to the foreign female client that the
US male client‘s criminal history record information and additional marital
history information is available upon request.   If she requests this information, the IMO must stop providing further services that would facilitate future interaction between the clients until the US male client has
submitted his criminal history record and additional marital history information to the IMO, and the IMO has provided this information to the foreign female client in her native language.

When does the state have jurisdiction?

Hawaii has jurisdiction when an IMO contracts with a Hawaii resident or is
considered to be doing business in Hawaii under any law of the state.

Is the IMO law a part of the state’s consumer protection statute?

No. However, Hawaii‘s IMO law expressly states that any person who
violates this chapter shall be deemed to have engaged in an unfair or
deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce,
subjecting the party to penalties under the state‘s consumer protection
statute.

Who can bring suit?

The state or an individual.

What penalties could an IMO face?

A willful violation of the IMO law may result in a fine of up to $500 and
imprisonment of up to 30 days. The law specifically preserves the right to
other penalties and remedies available under the common law or other
state or federal laws. Violations of the consumer protection statute may
result in a fine of between $500 and $10,000 for each violation.

Is the IMO subject to any registration, reporting, or certification requirements?

Yes. IMOs must submit an annual report on their business activities to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

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