The United States has unveiled new visa restrictions aimed at restricting “birth tourism,” which previously allowed foreigners travel to the US to give birth in order to have coveted US citizenship for their newborns.
The rules would make it more difficult for pregnant women to travel on a tourist visa. In one draft of the regulations, they would have to clear an additional hurdle before obtaining the visa — convincing a consular officer they have another legitimate reason to come to the U.S other than childbirth purpose.
This is bad news for many Africans who use this means to secure citizenship for their kids.
Birth tourism is a big business for companies which, with a steep fee, offer foreign women the chance to come the U.S. on a tourist visa, have a baby, get medical care, get citizenship, have a place to stay with their newborn, and then leave.
Birth tourism is a lucrative business in both the U.S. and abroad. Companies charge up to $80,000 to facilitate the practice. Many of the women travel from Russia, China and most parts of Africa to give birth in the U.S.
There are no clear figures on how many foreign women travel to the U.S for birth tourism. US’s Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimated that in 2012 about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the U.S. and then left the country.
“This rule will help eliminate the criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” according to the rules. “The recent federal indictments describe birth tourism schemes in which foreign nationals applied for visitor visas to come to the United States and lied to consular officers about the duration of their trips, where they would stay, and their purpose of travel.”