War Brides Act

1945

United States

Families & Relationships Gender & Sexuality

Approximately one million American soldiers married foreign women during and after World War II. These women’s entry into the United States was limited until Congress passed the War Brides Act in 1945. This act allowed foreign spouses and minor children of American servicemen to immigrate to the U.S. regardless of immigration quotas, provided that they met existing physical and mental health immigration standards. American soldiers’ brides were from allied and non-allied countries alike: Great Britain (~100,000), continental Europe (~150,000), Japan and East Asia (~50,000), Australia and New Zealand (~16,000), and Germany (~15,000).

Following the War Brides Act, in 1946, the Fiancées Act was passed to allow admission of foreign fiancées to the United States on three-month non-immigrant visitor visas. In 1947, an amendment eliminating racial categories from the War Brides Act allowed Asian spouses to enter the United States under the same standards. This remained the only legal way for Asians to immigrate to the United States until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (see also: Immigration and Nationality Act, 1952) removed racial categorizations from all immigration quotas.