The U.S. government said that women traveling to the United States primarily to give birth for the purpose of getting their child U.S. citizenship, is no longer permissible.
The new rule “establishes that travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B nonimmigrant visa,” or a tourism or business visa, the State Department said in an announcement (pdf).
“The 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, for purposes of consular officers adjudicating applications for B nonimmigrant visas.”
Consular officers will be instructed to deny visas to women they think are traveling to the United States primarily to give birth.
People traveling to the United States for “pleasure,” or as tourists, should be planning to engage in “legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or services nature,” the department said in explaining the changes.
The practice of birth tourism, or traveling to another country to give birth, is rife with criminal activity and poses risks to national security, the department said.
“Permitting short-term visitors with no demonstrable ties to the United States to obtain visas to travel to the United States primarily to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child creates a potential long-term vulnerability for national security. Foreign governments or entities, including entities of concern to the United States, may seek to benefit from birth tourism for purposes that would threaten the security of the United States,” it said.
The department estimates that thousands of children are born in the country to nonimmigrants every year. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, which pushes for stricter immigration laws, about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the United States in 2012 before leaving the country.
The new rules also include another provision. It says that visa applicants seeking medical treatment in the United States will be denied if they’re not able to establish “a legitimate reason why he or she wishes to travel to the United States for medical treatment, and that a medical practitioner or facility in the United States has agreed to provide treatment,” the State Department said.
“Additionally, the applicant must provide the projected duration and cost of treatment and any incidental expenses. The applicant must also establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that he or she has the means and intent to pay for the medical treatment and all incidental expenses, including transportation and living expenses, either independently or with the pre-arranged assistance of others.”