No more visitor visas for ‘birth tourism’
IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel (The Philippine Star) - March 15, 2020 - 12:00am

The US Department of State (DOS) has revised its regulations on eligibility for visitor visas, establishing that “travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B non-immigrant visa.” Consequently, “a consular officer shall deny a B nonimmigrant visa to an alien who he or she has reason to believe intends to travel [to the United States] for this purpose.”

The practice of pregnant women coming to the US on visitor visas in order to give birth to a child (so the child would be a US citizen) has been commonly referred to as “birth tourism.” DOS states that birth tourism is no longer considered a “legitimate activity” on a visitor visa, and birth tourism creates risks to US national security and law enforcement.

There have been news reports of various agencies advertising (especially in China) on how they could assist women in obtaining visitor visas in order to give birth in the US, and emphasize the advantages to their newborn baby, such as free education, free medical, job opportunities without the need to obtain a work authorization, and the ability to petition their parents once they are 21 years old.

In some cases, these women plead poverty to the hospital social workers, and give birth at US taxpayer expense. In one reported case, a woman paid the hospital the indigent (poor person) rate for hospital bills of $4,000, when the actual cost was $28,000. But it turned out she had more than $225,000 in a US bank account, and had made purchases of Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton purses and handbags during that same “visit” to the US.

In fact, some business travelers have referred to the flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai as the “Baby Express,” because the business and first-class sections were filled with women with crying newborn (US citizen) infants, as a result of birth tourism.

I know that many people from around the world wish to come to the US and give birth in order to give that child the future opportunities that the US has to offer. But DOS is cracking down on birth tourism, and if a woman applies for a visitor visa for the primary purpose of giving birth in the US, the visa will be denied.

Even if a woman already has a visitor visa, and enters the US noticeably pregnant, it would be up to the CBP to decide whether to let her in or not. She might also be questioned in secondary inspection, to evaluate if her primary purpose in coming to the US is to give birth to a US citizen baby.

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