You are in the United States working legally and decide you want your wife and children to visit you for Christmas. Before spending your money applying for their visa or booking their flights, you need to consider if your wife is pregnant or will be at the time of her visit.

The U.S. Constitution says that if a child is born on American soil, they have the right to citizenship. Some people take advantage of this, flying to the U.S. to have their baby while they are here so that the child will have U.S.  and then flying out again.  A new rule aims to put an end to this so-called “birth tourism,” but could needlessly affect other pregnant women.

The new law introduced earlier this year seems innocent enough. It states that people can be refused a tourist visa if their primary purpose is to give birth. However, it is unclear how the authorities decide what someone’s primary goal is for entering the country.

Consular officials are not allowed to ask a woman if she is pregnant directly. Anyone who is traveling exclusively to give birth and gain citizenship for their child would hardly admit to that. However, officials are required to make notes to accompany a person’s application. If a woman happens to be pregnant when applying for her visa or has a large belly, this may be noted down. It may lead to the rejection of her application.

Being pregnant is not a crime. Many women have valid reasons to visit the US while also being pregnant. Immigration matters are complicated, and decisions are open to the subjectivity of those making them. Seek experienced legal help for any immigration issues you or your family may have.