Some friends of mine would like their baby to be born in the US, so that their child can obtain US citizenship upon birth. They both have a valid B1/B2 visa and have traveled to the US before. They will pre-arrange a contract with a hospital and buy medical insurance, so they won't rely on free emergency care or otherwise use up American budget funds.

Would it be legal for them to travel to the US explicitly for the purpose of giving birth? If not, what visa should the mother apply for?

There are obviously other issues such as whether or not airlines will agree to transport the mother during late pregnancy, but that's out of the scope of the question.

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    Surprisingly it is not possible to find a good A with a quick google. hg.org/article.asp?id=35649 has some info to start but if you read all of rt.com/usa/237417-dhs-birth-tourism-industry-raids you notice the crucial point is about whether this is permitted on the visa. This Justanswer says no. Also #10 here reports a refused visa in a somewhat similar situation. – mts Nov 10 '16 at 21:26
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    Also not very authoritative source, but this has an anecdote of a woman answering honestly why she is coming to the USA, and no immigration issue at all. Costs $20K-30K, arranged in advance which sounds like some sort of international insurance binder involved to protected against complications. huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/01/… – Andrew Lazarus Nov 10 '16 at 21:32
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    I can't find it right now but I have seen one of those border TV shows where a US CBP agent explains for the camera that this is allowed provided you can actually pay for the medical bills. The person in that TV show was trying to sneak in so that she could claim to be indigent to the hospital and have the baby for free, and was refused entry. – Michael Hampton Nov 10 '16 at 21:34
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    @MichaelHampton which presumably falls under the general requirement to have adequate means to support yourself during your stay, although I can't find a statutory or regulatory basis for that requirement. – phoog Nov 10 '16 at 22:29
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    @MichaelHampton and I saw one where a CBP told a pregnant woman what it was perfectly legal to come to the US so that the child can be born in the country. Of course, he added that the couple had to pay for all medical care associated with it, roughly $10-15k for normal birth, no complications for either mother or baby and only several days in hospital. – Giorgio Nov 11 '16 at 1:19

Yes, it is legal. The issue is merely one of medical costs and who pays for them but:

The B-2 Tourist Visa is a non-immigrant visa meant for persons entering the U.S. for pleasure or medical treatment.

Or from the US Department of State:

Tourism and Visit (B-2):

  • tourism
  • vacation (holiday)
  • visit with friends or relatives
  • medical treatment
  • participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

My emboldening.

  • Can you do it under the visa waiver program or do you actually need to get the b2? – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Nov 11 '16 at 7:05
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    Nit picking, does giving birth comes under medical treatment ? – DumbCoder Nov 11 '16 at 9:03
  • This makes sense, but then why does CBP try to combat Chinese women entering the US to give birth? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Nov 11 '16 at 9:09
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    I along with others am not completely sold on the equation of "medical treatment" with birth here. A typical birth involves medical treatment, but it is also more than mere medical treatment. This is a high-stakes question, since being wrong could mean being denied entry and losing the cost of some very expensive arrangements. So it would be great to get more evidence if possible. – user35890 Nov 11 '16 at 13:50
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    @JonathanReez: They don't. There are Chinese women who have been honest about going to the US to give birth when getting their visa, showing plans to pay for medical costs, who have gotten the visas and come to the US with no problems. It's the people who try to conceal it, that CBP has denied. – user102008 Nov 11 '16 at 19:01

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