Each year, the United States become birthplace of 33,000 babies while their mothers visit the country as tourists — on top of hundreds of thousands more born by women on temporary visas and illegal aliens.
This alarming statistic has led to legal changes for giving birth in the U.S. on a tourist visa.
We’ll explain what birth tourism is and cover the legal consequences of having your baby in the U.S. as a tourist. We’ll also share the most recent legislation updates regarding tourist visas for pregnant women.
What Is Birth Tourism?
Birth tourism is the practice of traveling to another country, specifically to give birth in that country. Birth tourism often occurs on a temporary visa, such as a tourist visa.
Considered one of the best countries to give birth in, the U.S. is an attractive place for birth tourism. The motivation behind birth tourism in the U.S. includes:
- Perceived stability: Accepted as a stable and prosperous country, the U.S. is an attractive place to give birth and raise a child.
- Citiznship benefits: Giving birth in the U.S. makes your child a U.S. citizen, which gives the child access to education, healthcare and potential career opportunities.
- Family reunification: Giving birth in the U.S. can be used as a pathway for you and your spouse as a U.S. citizen’s parents to obtain legal immigration status in the U.S.
However, birth tourism in the U.S. is viewed as a potential threat to national security, because:
- It can lead to the fraudulent acquirement of U.S. citizenship, bypassing the traditional immigration pathways and security screening procedures
- It can strain healthcare and public services, impacting the well-being and security of citizens and legal residents
As a result, birth tourism has provoked numerous discussions about tightening regulations to ensure that those who enter the U.S. come to the country for legitimate reasons and are not compromising national security.
What Happens If You Give Birth In The US On A Tourist Visa?
Giving birth in the U.S. on a tourist visa can have certain legal consequences for both mother and child.
1. Legal Implications For The Mother
Giving birth in the U.S. on a tourist visa does not automatically grant you the right to stay in the country based on the birth of your child.
Your visa status remains unchanged and you will be typically expected to leave the U.S. before your visa expires. If you do not leave the country after the expiration of your visa, this will be considered as overstaying a visa, which may result in future travel restrictions or challenges when applying for a visa for subsequent visits.
In addition, if your primary purpose for entering the U.S. was to give birth and you did not truthfully represent your intentions to immigration officials, you can be charged with visa fraud due to willful misrepresentation of a material fact (that you were planning to have your baby in the U.S.) or face visa denial for future visa applications, due to credibility concerns.
While giving birth in the U.S. does not directly grant you any type of immigration status, there may be pathways that can help you remain in the U.S. permanently.
These alternatives can include family-sponsored visas, employment-based visas or other immigration categories. Talk to an experienced immigration attorney to understand your options.
2. Legal Implications For The Child
If your child is born on U.S. soil, they will acquire U.S. citizenship through the principle of jus soli (birthright citizenship).
- In addition to citizenship, being born in the U.S. allows your child to:
- Apply for a U.S. passport
Hold dual citizenship, depending on your home country’s laws
Apart from benefits, however, U.S. citizenship also comes with certain obligations. If your child is born in the U.S. and therefore is a U.S. citizen, your child is likely to:
- Have residency obligations, such as potential taxation on global income and the need to enter and exit the U.S. using a U.S. passport
- Face immigration challenges, as they may need to navigate U.S. immigration regulations, even if they choose not to reside in the U.S.
Because each situation is unique, the legal implications can vary based on the specific circumstances. We recommended seeking professional advice from a reputable immigration law firm, like The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein.
With five decades of immigration experience, our team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein has supported thousands of people in various immigration situations, from getting married on a tourist visa or navigating a visa overstay to removing conditions on a Green Card and facing the challenges of divorce after Green Card.
Schedule a consultation with our caring and tenacious team for professional guidance and advice in your situation. We will explain the legal implications for yourself and your child and share our advice on next steps.
New Rules For Giving Birth On A Tourist Visa In The US
As per the U.S. government, traveling to the U.S. and giving birth with the intention to obtain U.S. citizenship for your child is not an acceptable reason for granting a B nonimmigrant visa.
According to the updated temporary visa regulations, which became effective as of January 22, 2020, the consular officers have the authority to deny a B nonimmigrant visa to individuals they believe intend to travel solely for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for their child through birth.
However, the U.S. government recognized that foreign nationals may wish to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment while pregnant, which is different from birth tourism.
If you need to visit the U.S. for medical treatment while pregnant, you must submit your visa application along with:
- A legitimate reason to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, such as a condition requiring specialized medical expertise, availability of advanced medical technology, chronic disease management, participation in a trial or experimental treatments that are not available in your country, or seeking a second opinion
- A confirmation by a medical practitioner or facility stating that they agreed to provide treatment
- An estimated duration of stay in the U.S.
- A projected cost of treatment
- Proof that you can cover your medical treatment, transportation and living expenses, either on your own or with pre-arranged assistance from other parties
The new rule restricting tourist visas to pregnant women does not affect:
- F-1 academic visa applicants
- M-1 vocational student visa applicants
- H1-B work visa applicants
- Those seeking lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
If you are considering visiting the U.S. on a tourist visa, especially if you are pregnant, talk to legal experts to review the latest updates and get professional recommendations on next steps.
Need Legal Advice? Contact Spar & Bernstein
With a long-standing history and commitment to serving clients with care and compassion, our experienced team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein provides a guiding hand in key areas of immigration, from nonimmigrant visas and marriage-based visas to family immigration and waivers.
Giving birth in the U.S. on a tourist visa can be extremely overwhelming. To help you in this life-changing situation, our knowledgeable and compassionate lawyers will:
- Provide personalized advice based on your specific situation
- Assess your visa status
- Explain your rights and obligations as a foreign national in line with the changing policies and regulations that might affect your situation
- Provide insight into the implications of U.S. citizenship for your child
- Explore various legal options for you and your child, such as addressing potential overstays, adjusting your visa category or seeking pathways for obtaining legal immigration status
- Review your documentation to ensure accuracy and compliance with immigration regulations
- Submit your application for extending your stay or changing your visa category, along with all necessary documents
- Handle the communication with immigration officials on your behalf
- Represent you and advocate on your behalf in case of visa denial, overstay issues or other problems
- Provide peace of mind while you focus on caring for and bonding with your child
With Spar & Bernstein, you can rest assured that you and your child are in good hands.
Giving Birth In The US On A Tourist Visa: Key Takeaways
Giving birth in the U.S. on a tourist visa can have a number of legal implications for both you and your child.
You will likely be denied a visa if your intentions to travel to the U.S. are only related to birth and the potential benefits that offers.
However, you can still be eligible for a visa if your medical condition requires treatment in the U.S. and you are expecting a child.
If you have questions about birth tourism or need to get a visa for medical treatment in the U.S. while pregnant contact our experienced and compassionate immigration lawyers at Spar & Bernstein.
We will help you navigate this complex situation by taking care of all the documents and procedures needed to maintain your legal status and pursue pathways to maintain in the country, if desired.
Bradford H. Bernstein
This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.View Brad's Bio