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US Officials Authorized to Ask Visitor Visa Applicants if They Are Pregnant

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

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US Officials Authorized to Ask Visitor Visa Applicants if They Are Pregnant

New powers are now in force allowing US officials to lawfully ask women travellers if they are pregnant and planning to give birth in the US.

Under the new provisions, entitled “Travel to give birth in the United States,” (9 FAM 404.2-4(A)(8)), non-US visitors applying for B visas can be denied if the Consular Officer has reason to believe their primary purpose in obtaining such documentation is to give birth in the US.

The new rules have been introduced by the Trump Administration to deter so-called ‘birth tourism’, that is, pregnant women travelling to the US for the sole purpose of giving birth there.

Under current US nationality laws, in most cases children born in the US automatically attain US citizenship, a policy which President Trump has consistently criticized.

The new standard for B visa adjudication provides that where the consular officer has a “reason to believe” that the applicant is travelling with the sole purpose of giving birth in the US, the officer would be authorized to ask women applicants if they are pregnant, or if they intend to become pregnant.

To meet the reason to believe standard, the officer must have a belief that is more than suspicion and supported by evidence.

US visitor visa applicants who are pregnant may then need to prove they have a specific reason for travel other than giving birth on US soil.

The official guidance states officers should not ask this line of question “as a matter of course” but only where there is reason to believe. Officers may not require women “to provide evidence that they are not pregnant”.

The new provisions also impose stricter rules on those wishing to enter the US for medical treatment. B visa applicants must now prove they have “the means and intent” to pay for their medical expenses and convince a consular officer that they have arranged for a doctor willing to provide their treatment.

If you have any queries about the changes and the impact on your US visitor visa application, speak to our US immigration specialists.

Last updated: February 16, 2020

Author

Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law, (The Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and AILA) and an experienced and trusted advisor to large multinational corporates through to SMEs. She provides strategic immigration advice and specialist application support to corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, actors and athletes from across the globe to meet their US-bound talent mobility needs.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals.

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.