Home » Immigration Law » New rule meant to prevent ‘birth tourism’ goes into effect

“This 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,” reads the State Department’s summary of its new rule.

The B visa is available to temporary business visitors (B-1) and tourists (B-2) who come to the U.S. for business or pleasure.

However, there has been concern in the U.S. that some people use the B visa to come to America in order to give birth to a child, who would then be a U.S. citizen. This is sometimes referred to as “birth tourism.”

The Department of State now says that “a consular officer shall deny a B nonimmigrant visa to an alien who he or she has reason to believe intends to travel for this primary purpose.”

Furthermore, the new rule sets up what is called a “rebuttable presumption” that someone who will give birth during her stay in the U.S. is primarily traveling to the U.S. for the purpose of gaining U.S. citizenship for the child. A rebuttable presumption means that immigration officials will assume this, and the immigrant will have the burden of proving that they have another primary reason for traveling to the U.S.

Finally, the rule makes clear that B visa applicants who are seeking medical treatment in the U.S. will have to demonstrate that they have arranged such treatment and that they have the ability to pay all costs associated with the treatment.

Valid purposes for a tourist visa

According to the State Department, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows B visas for business or pleasure. “Pleasure” refers to legitimate activities of a recreational character, including:

  • Tourism
  • Amusement
  • Visiting friends or relatives
  • Rest
  • Medical treatment
  • Activities of a fraternal, social or services nature

The new rule provides that “pleasure” does not include travel for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the U.S. This is new, as the INA does not specifically limit visits by pregnant women who may give birth during their stay.

This new rule does not apply to everyone who is likely to give birth during a stay in the United States. The State Department says that people who want to rely on American medical facilities for birth due to specialized medical needs will not be presumed to be “birth tourists,” but they will have to prove they can pay for those services.

If you have questions about this rule or other aspects of immigration law, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people come to the U.S.