On January 24, 2020, the regulations that govern B non-immigrant visas (tourist visas) were amended to specifically exclude travel for the “primary purpose of obtaining United States citizenship for a child by giving birth to the child in the United States.” The regulations now permit an overseas consular officer to deny a tourist visa to anyone if they have reason to believe that the person is traveling for that primary purpose.
While consular officers were advised not to specifically ask all female applicants if they are pregnant and/or if they plan to give birth to their child in the United States, many officers are unclear on what exactly constitutes “reason to believe” a person is coming to the United States to give birth. The State Department guidance also does not rule out consular officers using visual clues that a visa applicant may be pregnant as a reason to believe she may be seeking a visa to give birth in the United States. Such visual clues, according to the State Department, could lead to further inquiry into the applicant’s reasons behind seeking the visa.
One of the main reasons the State Department cites the new rule is that birth tourism is a threat to national security. They state that foreign nationals giving birth in the United States thereby transmitting United States citizenship to their children opens the door to giving citizenship to a person without having gone through the scrutiny of the immigration and naturalization processes that are otherwise required. However, such an explanation seems to be a reach for such an expansive rule that essentially opens the door to gender discrimination in the visa application process.
If you have questions about how this new rule may affect your ability to renew and/or get a visitor visa, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
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