US imposes new ‘birth tourism’ visa rules for pregnant women

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Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

US imposes new ‘birth tourism’ visa rules for pregnant women

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of the new rule, key features.

For Mains: Need for, significance and concerns.

Context: The US Department of State has unveiled new rules to deter pregnant women from travelling to the US to give birth.

The policy is intended as a crackdown on what is known as “birth tourism“.

Present scenario:

Currently, pregnant women can enter the US even up until birth, according to US Customs and Border Protection. But the prospective mother’s travel may be restricted if there is reason to believe she intends to remain in the US beyond the time allowed by her visa, or plans for US taxpayers to foot the bill for her childbirth.

Need for the new policy?

Nearly all children born in the US gets automatic citizenship – a law US President Donald Trump has criticised. His administration says the new travel policy is necessary to safeguard US national security and public health.

What is the new rule?

  1. The new rule applies to visitors seeking B visas, which are issued to non-immigrants.
  2. Under the rule, pregnant women applying for US visitor visas may need to prove they have a specific reason for travel other than giving birth on US soil.
  3. It allows consular officials to deny a visa to any individual whose “primary purpose” in obtaining such documentation is to give birth there.

Significance:

The rule addresses concerns about the attendant risks of this activity to national security and law enforcement, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry, as reflected in federal prosecutions of individuals and entities involved in that industry.

How many children are born under ‘birth tourism’?

There are no records of how many babies are born to US visitors each year, but various groups have issued estimates.

  • About 10,000 babies were born to a foreign resident in 2017, the latest year that data is available, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • That number is up from about 7,800 in 2007.

Sources: the Hindu.