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‘Birth Tourism’: US imposes new visa rules on pregnant women

Pregnant Woman on a Flight

Web Editor | ConsumerConnect

United States (US) President Donald Trump’s administration is imposing new visa rules aimed at restricting “birth tourism,” in which women travel to the US to give birth so their children can have US citizenship.

The regulations, which take effect Friday, January 24, address one of President Trump’s main political priorities.

AP reports that the regulations seek to chip away at the number of foreigners who take advantage of the constitutional provision granting “birthright citizenship” to anyone born in the United States, a particular peeve of Trump’s.

Under the new rules, the source says pregnant applicants will be denied a ‘tourist visa’ unless they can prove they must come to the U.S. to give birth for medical reasons and they have money to pay for it, or have another compelling reason —not just because they want their child to have an American passport.

Officials said that consular officers would not be asking all female visa applicants of child-bearing age whether they are pregnant or intend to get pregnant.

Rather, they said consular officers would ask the question only if they had a reason to believe the applicant is pregnant, and likely or planning to give birth in the US.

Visual cues, such as appearing to be pregnant or listing “medical treatment” as a reason for wanting to travel to the United States might trigger such questioning, the officials said.

Even if a woman is found to be pregnant and likely to deliver her child in the United States, she could still be granted a visa if she is able to demonstrate a valid reason for the travel such a visiting an ailing relative or attending a business meeting or conference, they said.

Officials said the rule would not apply to foreign travellers coming from any of the 39 mainly European and Asian countries enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of those countries to come the US without a visa for temporary stays.

The rule will only apply to applicants for so-called “B” class visas that permit short-term stays for business or pleasure.

“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned Dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.

The integrity of American citizenship must be protected,” Grisham stated.

The practice of travelling to the US to give birth is fundamentally legal, although there are scattered cases of authorities arresting operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion.

Women are often honest about their intentions when applying for visas, and even show signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.

Therefore, the State Department “does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child, by giving birth in the United States — an activity commonly referred to as ‘birth tourism’ — is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature,” according to the new rules published in the Federal Register Thursday.

Birth tourism is a lucrative business in both the U.S. and abroad. Companies take out advertisements and charge up to $80,000 to facilitate the practice. Many of the women travel from Russia and China to give birth in the U.S.

The US has been cracking down on the practice since before Trump took office, stated the report.

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