What is Birth Tourism?
Also known as maternal tourism, pregnancy tourism, or maternity tourism, birth tourism is the practice of pregnant women traveling to another country to give birth. It is typically done to ensure the children will be granted citizenship in that country, as opposed to where their parents reside. Those who practice birth tourism typically come from countries where the quality of life or economic opportunities are limited.
With regards to citizenship at birth, countries usually apply either “jus solis” (right of soil) or “jus sanguinis” (right of blood). “Jus solis” grants citizenship based on being born “on the soil” of the relevant country. “Jus sanguinis” citizenship is based on the parents’ nationality.
Children born under birth tourism are granted citizenship based on “jus solis” and provided with all the benefits of that country. Birth tourism is a means of ensuring a better quality of life and securing a powerful passport for a child. Parents can also fast-track their naturalization in the country where their child is born. In the U.S., children born of birth tourism can sponsor their parents for citizenship once they turn 21.
Birth tourism is legal and has been practiced in many countries for decades. It gained attention in recent years due to increased globalization, more accessible travel, and the growth of the middle class in many developing countries.
Birth tourists typically immigrate to countries like the United States, Canada, and Brazil, where birthright citizenship policies are unrestricted. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of birth tourists, but there has been controversy about it in the last few years.
How Does Birth Tourism Work?
Engaging in birth tourism typically involves expecting parents choosing to travel before the due date of their child to another country where birthright citizenship is legal and can be granted to the newborn. The parents or one parent will obtain a tourist visa to the destination country and then give birth at a hospital or other medical facility.
A child born in a foreign country where birthright is legal is automatically granted citizenship and is entitled to all the rights and privileges of being a citizen of that country. While the practice has faced controversy in recent years, it continues to be popular in countries such as the United States and Canada, which have birthright citizenship laws that confer citizenship on anyone born within their borders, regardless of the parent’s nationality.
Benefits of Birth Tourism
There are many reasons parents engage in birth tourism. The number one advantage for parents to engage in birth tourism is to obtain a second passport for their child. Birth tourism can also expedite permanent residency and citizenship for the parents.
Some might seek to secure a better life for their children in a country with more economic, educational, and professional opportunities. Others might be looking to provide a pathway for themselves and other family members to legally immigrate later.
Some parents might also decide to have their children in a country that provides better medical care than where they reside. Giving birth can be scary or complicated, and some mothers feel more comfortable in higher-quality medical institutions.
Birth tourism is a legal and legitimate way to obtain dual citizenship for a child. Dual citizenship can open up opportunities for travel and work, as well as securing better healthcare and social benefits. Families who live in countries with weaker passports can give their children the gift of an expanded world in which to make their lives.
Birth tourism can also positively contribute to the country’s economy where the child is born by generating tourism revenue and creating additional jobs, especially in the healthcare sector.
Countries That Give Birthright Citizenship
Nearly all countries in North and South America recognize the citizenship rights of children born on their soil. The United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil are all places where children born of birth tourism are granted birthright citizenship. In these places, the parents of birth tourism children can usually obtain citizenship faster than usual.
Canada is a common option for parents who want to engage in birth tourism. It’s a popular destination for expecting parents and practices legal birthright citizenship for anyone born in the country. Having a Canadian passport opens up visa-free access to 188 countries, as well as world-class healthcare, education, and professional opportunities.
There are several benefits of engaging in birth tourism in the U.S. For one, children born in the U.S. are automatically granted citizenship, which gives them access to a wide range of benefits and opportunities. U.S. citizens can live and work in the country without the need for visas or work permits. They are entitled to various government benefits and protections, such as access to healthcare, education, and social security. Additionally, having U.S. citizenship can provide a pathway to other countries giving citizens access to 188 countries visa-free.
In Mexico, parents of Mexican citizens can get permanent residency immediately, which usually takes at least four years. Birth tourism allows parents to obtain second citizenship and passport for their children while fast-tracking citizenship for themselves. Parents can apply for Mexican citizenship after just two years. If a child is born in Brazil to foreign national parents, they receive birthright citizenship automatically. Their parents can then fast-track Brazilian residency, followed by citizenship. Mexican and Brazilian passports are desirable as they grant visa-free access to many international destinations.
Engaging in birth tourism in any country that offers birthright citizenship will give parents greater peace of mind, as they can be assured that their child will have access to the high-quality healthcare and educational systems in the country. It is a means of offering one’s children a better life and more international opportunities.
Restrictions on Birth Tourism
In the last few years, the United States has attempted to restrict birth tourism. On January 24, 2020, the Department of State amended the regulations for the B nonimmigrant visa , a temporary visa to enter the U.S. for tourism or business reasons, to address the issue of birth tourism. The amendment states that U.S. consular officers shall deny a B visa application if they believe the applicant is traveling to the U.S. to give birth and seek U.S. citizenship for their child. Tourists looking to engage in birth tourism will be under more scrutiny due to this amendment and should be aware before planning their travels.
Birth tourism is a legal means of obtaining citizenship for one’s child in a different country. Countries that are popular destinations for birth tourism include the United States, Canada, and Brazil. The U.S. has been putting measures in place to curb the amount of birth tourism in recent years. However, other countries still automatically give citizenship to any child born in the
territory. Engaging in birth tourism provides the newborn child with alternative citizenship and could streamline the naturalization process for the parents, depending on the country.