The U.S. Department of State has introduced new regulations to stop “birth tourism’’, the practice of giving birth in the country to obtain American citizenship for a child.
The rules, which take effect on Friday, would make it harder for pregnant foreign nationals to enter the United States on tourism visas.
According to the policy document published by local media on Thursday, the regulations would apply to B nonimmigrant visas.
“The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs (“Department”), is amending its regulation governing the issuance of visas in the “B” nonimmigrant classification for temporary visitors for pleasure.
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“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.
“Consequently, 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,’’ it said.
The department said it did not believe that birth tourism was a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said the rules were necessary to address “endemic abuses’’ of the tourism visas and protect the U.S. from attendant national security risks.
“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice.
“It 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 integrity of American citizenship must be protected,” she said.