The US State Department on Thursday published a new rule that aims to deny tourist visas to pregnant women if consular officials believe the their primary purpose of their visit is to give birth in the United States.
The Trump administration says it is seeking to end “birth tourism”, which is the practice of pregnant foreign women visiting the country in order to give birth in the US so that their babies can be US citizens.
Under the new rule, consular officers at embassies abroad will have authority to deny a B non-immigrant visitor visa to an applicant if they believe their “primary purpose” is to give birth in the US.
“If a consular officer has reason to believe a B nonimmigrant visa applicant will give birth in the United States, the applicant is presumed to be seeking a visa for the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for the child,” the rule reads.
"To rebut this presumption, the visa applicant must establish, to the satisfaction of a consular officer, a legitimate primary purpose other than obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States,” the rule states.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Thursday issued a statement saying that the new rule closes an immigration loophole that creates burden on hospital resources, adding that the rule “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 State Department says it will continue issuing visitor visas to pregnant women whose travel purpose is to seek medical treatment in the US, but that the applicant will have to “establish, to the satisfaction of.a consular officer, a legitimate reason” for seeking to travel for medical treatment. The applicant will also need to provide to the consular officer that a medical practitioner or medical facility in the US has agreed to offer treatment.
The Associated Press last year reported that most of the “birth tourists” are women from China, Russia and Nigeria.
President Trump has long expressed his opposition to birthright citizenship, which grants citizenship to all persons born in the United States. He has threatened to end through executive action automatic citizenship to babies born un the US to non-citizens. “So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other,” President Trump wrote on Twitter in 2018.
Legal scholars have however said the president does not have authority to end birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed in the 14th amendment of the US constitution.
The new rule become effective on Friday, January 24th when it is published in the Federal Register.