Trump Administration Claims to Target “Birth Tourism” With New Rule Which Actually Impacts B Visitor Visas
According to recent reports, the Trump administration plans to unleash a new immigration rule in late January that targets pregnant women visiting from other countries in an effort to prevent foreigners from “taking advantage of the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizenship” for those born in the U.S. While the specific details of the new rule are still unknown, reports indicate that the goal is to crackdown on “birth tourism,” where women from other countries (which according to some sources are namely China, Nigeria, and Russia) who give birth in the U.S. are able to obtain citizenship. State Department officials indicate that there has been significant criminal activity associated with the “birth tourism industry,” and some estimates place the number of babies born to foreign visitors at more than 30,000 per year.
The regulation also appears to be part of broader efforts to intensify the vetting process for visas in general. Indeed, it is unclear how State Department officials do not already have the tools that they need to properly vet applicants seeking to obtain citizenship by giving birth here. Instead, the rule appears to affect those who are seeking B visas, also known as visitor visas, who visit the U.S. on short-term business and tourism visas.
It is also unclear how the rule would be enforced; as in, what criteria officials would use to deny entry into the country (whether that would be the applicant’s country of origin, pregnancy, etc.). According to former State Department officials, very few people who give birth in the U.S. obtained a visa for that purpose. In fact, most already have visas and come later.
Can It Be Challenged Legally?
While it can be difficult for foreign nationals who have not yet obtained visas to bring legal challenges, restrictions that end up keeping out non-birth tourism visitors are legally questionable. In 2017, more than six million people came to the U.S. on a B visa for business, tourism, or both. Still, many applicants are likely to have their applications refused. In fact, citizens of some countries will sometimes experience refusal rates that are higher than 90 percent.
Other Changes Coming
There are a number of additional changes in immigration policy that will affect immigrants this year, including the following:
- An increase in fees for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, including for asylum seekers
- Mandating that permanent residents who apply for citizenship prove that they can speak basic English, read, write, and recite “essential knowledge of U.S. history and government”
- Making more applications available digitally
- Blocking green cards on “public charge” grounds (currently being litigated by 13 states)
Contact an Immigration Lawyer
This rule is yet another obstacle placed on the ability for individuals and families to visit, establish, and reconnect here in the U.S. If you have any questions or concerns related to immigration legal needs, contact North Carolina immigration attorney Rashad Hauter of Hauter Law Firm, PC right away. We are here to help.