Published: Fri, January 24, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

United States imposes visa rules for pregnant women on 'birth tourism'

United States imposes visa rules for pregnant women on 'birth tourism'

The State Department official said that the new rule does not bar all pregnant women from obtaining tourist visas; a pregnant woman traveling for a different objective, for example, to visit a sick relative, "can still be issued a visa", the official said.

The new restrictions create barriers for pregnant people applying for B visas, which are offered to short-term visitors including, but not limited to, tourists, people traveling on business, and people seeking urgent medical care.

During his presidency, he has criticised the right to citizenship for any person born in the US, which applies even to children born to tourists.

It is not clear whether such "birth tourism" is a significant phenomenon or that "anchor babies" do lead to substantial immigration, but many conservatives believe both issues are real and serious.

President Trump has long expressed his opposition to birthright citizenship, which grants citizenship to all persons born in the United States.

"The birth tourism industry threatens to overburden valuable hospital resources and is rife with criminal activity, as reflected in federal prosecution". The new rules would force visa applicants to prove they have a legitimate reason to travel to the US while pregnant.

With the new rule, the White House seems to be signaling to officers overseas that those close to delivering a child should be added to a growing list of immigrants unwelcome in the United States, in addition to the poor, most refugees and asylum-seeking migrants.

"The integrity of American citizenship must be protected", it said in a statement. Federal prosecutors said Li was responsible for helping at least 500 women lie to immigration officials and successfully give birth to automatic American citizens.

Trump's administration said the move was necessary to prevent potential acts of terrorism, as countries on the list don't adequately vet their travellers to America.

The regulation officially disallows the use of visitor visas for birth tourism, although it leaves the enforcement of the change up to the discretion of a consular officer. And they must prove that they have the money to pay for medical treatment, including living and transportation costs.

In some cases, alleged operators and customers of companies promoting "birth tourism" in the United States have been charged with providing false information to immigration authorities in order to hide plans to give birth in the United States. They also said the rule could be applied in a misogynistic way.

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The officials who spoke to the AP about this claim that consular authorities making these decisions will not proactively be asking women if they are pregnant or have reason to believe they may be pregnant, but will only get into these questions if they have reason to believe a woman is pregnant.

"It is absurd that the Trump administration is turning embassy employees into reproductive policemen", Ms. Talbot said.

That's according to State Department guidance sent Wednesday and viewed by The Associated Press. The regulations, which take effect Friday, address one of President Donald Trump's main political priorities. They would not be subject to the new rule. Some visas allow foreigners to visit the United States multiple times over the course of as many as 10 years, so an applicant could be granted a visa, get pregnant years later and still be permitted to visit the country.

The State Department official on Thursday said that foreign governments might seek to exploit birth tourism, but the official declined to cite examples in which foreign governments have benefited from the practice. "This won't stop that happening", said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

But those applying for visas close to the delivery date could be denied, she said. But they would still have to decide whether a visa applicant would be coming to the United States only to give birth.

Exactly. As important as it is for us to build a wall and beef up security at the border, it's even more important that we begin to remove the obvious incentives that are driving illegal immigration numbers to record highs.

Federal prosecutors in California past year charged 19 operators and clients with participating in a multimillion-dollar business, including some Chinese couples who were offered a package for as much as $100,000 that included housing, nannies and shopping excursions.

The US joins countries like the UK, Germany, France, New Zealand, and Australia in introducing laws to curb "birth tourism". Arrivals also come from China, Nigeria, and other countries, the paper said.

The rule will codify in federal statute a requirement that B visa-holders prove they can pay the full costs associated with any medical treatment they are seeking in the U.S. As opposed to current policy, consular officers will be ordered to presume that a pregnant national seeking a B visa "is traveling for the primary goal of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child".

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Washington.

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