Recently, the Trump administration announced new immigration restrictions designed to clamp down on foreign-born expectant mothers traveling to this country to give birth for their child to have United States citizenship. The new rules aimed at stemming birth tourism would create new hurdles for women of child-bearing age seeking travel visas to this country. However, opponents say the restrictions raise questions about the ethics of asking women about current or future pregnancy. The new immigration rules align with the President’s personal objections to birthright citizenship, which is granted by the United States constitution.
What is Birth Tourism?
Birth tourism has created a booming business for entrepreneurs seeking to cash in the desire for individuals born outside of this country to give their children United States citizenship. Companies, especially in China and Russia, charge women upwards of $80,000 to facilitate the birth process, including coordinated medical care, travel arrangements, and hotel stays until and after their clients’ babies are born.
Surprisingly, most birth tourism agencies are on the rise, and up to this point, women were free to be transparent about their intentions to give birth in the United States. Because the practice has been legal, companies did not have to operate in the shadows. It is difficult to gauge precisely how many women travel to the United States to give birth annually, but the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that back in 2012, more than 35,000 foreign-born women gave birth here before leaving the country with citizenship for their children.
New Obstacles for Pregnant Women Seeking Visas
Up until now, women could freely declare their intention to give birth in the United States when seeking a visa. However, with these new immigration restrictions, that has changed. Now, pregnant women can be denied a visa unless they can prove they have a legitimate medical need to give birth here and they have the financial means to pay for their care. Or, they must prove they have another reason to come to the United States. The new rules will not apply to applicants from any of the 39 nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows individuals to come to this country for temporary stays without a visa.
Questions Regarding Ethics and Visa Applicants
The new rules bring up questions about how consular agents will go about determining if women are pregnant. Agents were not previously required or expected to ask women of child-bearing age if they were pregnant or intended to become pregnant. Now, they will be looking for visible signs of pregnancy or information on visa applications suggesting women are visiting the United States for obstetrical care.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Clients Understand Immigration Changes
The new visa restrictions will inevitably make it more difficult for expectant mothers to access the superior medical care available in the United States. If you or a loved one has questions about navigating the United States immigration system and applying for a visa while pregnant, the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can help. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.