The Trump administration issued new visa guidelines Thursday that could make it more difficult for some pregnant women to visit the United States, a move that White House officials said is aimed at curbing “birth tourism.”
White House officials offered no evidence or data to support assertions that “birth tourism” is a growing problem. And critics quickly denounced the policy change, saying it’s tantamount to a “handmaid’s test” and would pave the way for discrimination against female travelers.
The new rules apply to foreign travelers applying for visasfor business, pleasure, tourism and medical visits.
Under the new guidelines, which take effect Friday, applicants deemed by consular officers to be coming to the U.S. primarily to give birth will be treated like foreigners coming for medical treatment – they must prove they have the money to pay for it, including transportation and living expenses.
Under the Constitution, anyone born in the United States is considered a citizen. Though the practice of traveling to the U.S. to give birth is not illegal, authorities have arrested operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion.
The State Department noted that investigations of birth tourism found that operators often fabricated financial documents, used false information to lease apartments and charged individuals as much as $100,000 for the service.