Are you pregnant and planning to travel to the United States for a short-term stay for business or pleasure? You certainly should forget it because starting today, Friday, January 24, the US consular officers will not issue you with the “B” class visa.
The new regulations, which are part of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises on immigration, seek to curb the number of foreigners who take advantage of the constitutional provision granting “birthright citizenship” to anyone born in the US.
According to an AP report, under the new rules, “pregnant applicants will be denied a tourist visa unless they can prove they must come to the US to give birth for medical reasons and they have money to pay for it or have another compelling reason — not just because they want their child to have an American passport”.
US state officials told AP that consular officers will ask women if they are pregnant in case they have any reason to believe the applicant is expectant and likely or planning to give birth in America.
Those exempted from the new rules are nationals of countries enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program, mainly from Europe and Asia. They are about 39 countries.
“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism. The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”
This comes just days after the Trump administration announced plans to add seven countries to a group of countries subject to travel restrictions in Africa and Asia.
The new restrictions will apply to travellers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, according to The Wall Street Journal.
While the affected states will not get a blanket ban, there will be restrictions on specific types of visas, such as business or visitor visas, administration officials said.
Some countries will also be banned from participating in the visa lottery programmme, which awards green cards on Trump’s orders.
He has ended the programme, saying it lets undesirable people into America and is now changing it to have skilled workers migrate to the US.
Trump’s first order, just a week after getting to office, banned travel to the US by nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Chad was previously covered under the ban but was removed in April 2018.
The order was waivered by a federal court as did the second because “it amounted to religious discrimination against Muslims”.
A third version of the policy, issued in September 2017, was upheld by a divided Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling in June 2018 on the grounds that federal law gives the president broad authority to suspend entry to the US, Wall Street Journal said