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New State Department Rule Addresses B Visa Travel for Childbirth, Medical Treatment

A new State Department regulation prohibits a pregnant foreign national from obtaining a U.S. B-1/B-2 visitor visa if a consular officer determines that the primary purpose of her trip is to obtain U.S. citizenship for the child by giving birth in the United States. The final rule was issued without public comment and takes effect Friday, January, 24, 2020.

Under the new rule, if a consular officer has reason to believe that a visitor visa applicant will give birth in the United States, the applicant will be presumed to be seeking a visa for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child.

To overcome this presumption, the applicant would be required to show that the primary purpose of her travel is something other than obtaining U.S. citizenship. According to the State Department, the need for specialized medical care might rebut the presumption and qualify a pregnant applicant for a U.S. visitor visa. However, a consular officer would have the discretion to deny the visa if, for example, the applicant has ties to another country where she could be treated. 

The new regulation also codifies a longstanding State Department policy that requires visitor visa applicants planning to travel to the United States for medical treatment to document their treatment plans, including the anticipated duration of treatment and the U.S. health care provider or facility that has agreed to provide treatment. Applicants must also show they have both the means and the intent to pay for all costs related to the treatment.

The new regulation applies to foreign nationals seeking B visitor visas to the United States. The State Department has not yet disclosed how the regulation concerning childbirth will be implemented.

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