War Brides Act


Wartime legislation, passed in 1945, that eased immigration restrictions for foreign wives of American servicemen. In 1943, in the context of World War II, laws excluding immigrants on the basis of race started to be repealed, and laws that gave preference to family reunification started to take their place. The Magnuson Act specifically repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act (Act of December 17, 1943, 57 Stat. 600; 8 U.S.C. 212(a)). Even though Chinese immigrants were given a very small annual quota of 105, it was significant that as allies, the United States would no longer bar Chinese from entry entirely based on race alone. Other laws facilitated the immigration of the wives, fiancées and family members of servicemen after World War II. The War Brides Act of 1945 added a gender dynamic to the repeal of Chinese Exclusion, and later to Asian exclusion in general. The War Brides act allowed servicemen, including Nisei servicemen in Europe and Asia, who married women while stationed abroad to bring their wives to the United States on a non-quota basis and without regard to racial exclusion laws (Act of December 28, 1945, 59 Stat. 659: 8 U.S.C. 232-236). In 1946, this provision was expanded to include the "Alien Fiancees and Fiances" of servicemen with the stipulation that they marry within three months of entering the United States. Since immigration laws were slow to admit new immigrants from Asia before 1965, this law had the effect of allowing more Asian women than men to immigrate during this period, skewing immigration from Japan specifically toward a female immigrant population.

Authored by Cherstin M. Lyon, California State University, San Bernardino

For More Information

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. Issei, Nisei, War Bride: Three Generations of Japanese American Women in Domestic Service. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.