The United States of America government has released a new visa rule that will bar women from travelling there just to give birth.
In a phenomenon that is known as “birth tourism”, the new rule by the Trump administration aims to to reduce it significantly.
Applicants will be denied tourist visas if they are determined by consular officers to be coming to the US primarily to give birth, according to the rules in the Federal Register.
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This practice has been routine for a lot of women in Ghana and other African countries over the years.
Those with medical needs will be treated like other foreigners coming to the US for medical treatment and must prove they have the money to pay for it – including transportation and living expenses.
The practice of travelling to the US to give birth is fundamentally legal, although there are scattered cases of authorities arresting operators of so-called birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion. And women are often honest about their intentions when applying for visas and even show signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.
The State Department “does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining US 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,” according to the new rules, which take effect Friday.
Regulating tourist visas for pregnant women is one way to get at the issue, but it raises questions about how officers would determine whether a woman is pregnant to begin with and whether a woman could get turned away by border officers who suspect she may be, just by looking at her.
Consular officers do not have the right to ask during visa interviews whether a woman is pregnant or intends to become so. But they would still have to determine whether a visa applicant would be coming to the US primarily to give birth.