Cathay Pacific-owned HK Express is apologizing for requiring passengers to take pregnancy tests at the airport as a condition of flying to a U.S. territory in the Pacific, as a strategy of complying with U.S. immigration demands.
At the Hong Kong airport, Ms. Nishida [a Japanese citizen] had indicated on a check-in questionnaire that she wasn’t pregnant. That didn’t satisfy airline staff, who asked her to give permission to an authorized medical provider to give her a “fit-to-fly” assessment, including a pregnancy test.
The permission form said it was for women who were observed to have a body size or shape resembling a pregnant woman.
“It was very humiliating and frustrating,” Ms. Nishida said. The test was negative and she boarded the flight, she said.
The U.S. grants citizenship to nearly anyone born inside the country. The current administration has taken efforts to deny entry to people it believes are coming here for the purpose of claiming citizenship for an as-yet unborn child.
People born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. citizens. (The status of people born in American Samoa is a little more complicated.)
Up until 2018 Chinese citizens could enter Saipan, in the Northern Marianas, without a visa and stay for up to 45 days. That year 575 tourists from China gave birth there, which is more children than were board to citizens. In contrast the year the visa waiver program for Chinese visitors to the Marianas was introduced in 2009 just 12 tourists gave birth there.
The Trump administration reduced allowable stays for Chinese under the visa waiver program to 14 days. Airlines generally don’t permit women to travel that late in their pregnancy.
When the U.S. denies someone entry into the country, the airline that transported them here is responsible at its own cost for flying them back. So airlines try to make sure they get everything right before accepting someone for passage. They check documents and they check the U.S. government’s no fly lists. And they may even require women to take pregnancy tests at the airport.
Copyright: andreyuu / 123RF Stock Photo
While it’s not illegal to visit the U.S. while pregnant, there’s an increased risk that immigration authorities will turn someone away believing they’re entering in order to give birth.
Beijing Capital Airlines “recommend pregnant passengers travel to Saipan without a visa” because they’re likely to be turned away by immigration authorities, the law notwithstanding, and Asiana recommends traveling to Saipan during the eighth month of pregnancy.
(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)