Asian Women Required To Take Pregnancy Tests Before Traveling To The United States

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)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — If they are going to do this, then it should simply be required of all non-US citizen females of a certain age (15-59?). Basing it on being “Asian” or “pregnant-looking” is discriminatory and foolish.

  2. Too many women are exploiting the birthright citizenship loophole against the will of the public and intent of the law which was meant for the 1860s and 1870s but judges are too cowardly to declare birthright citizenship invalid.

    This is a product of that.

  3. @Jackson Hewitt – You tell ’em. What we need is judges who openly violate our Constitution! Not like it’s the foundation of our entire country or anything.

  4. I’m glad we have a legal scholar like Jackson whatever here, who have read constitution exactly zero time, telling us what constitution says.

  5. Gary, please. The story only involves Asian women because it is an Asian destination. The issue is not ethnicity, it is traveling under false pretense late in pregnancy to obtain US citizenship for the newborn. If you don’t believe this happens all the time your head is buried in the sand. While the approach described in this article may not be the best strategy to combat the problem do not deny the problem.

  6. I read this story elsewhere. From my understanding it wasn’t an administration or Trump thing. But rather specifically from the government of Saipan.

    Which is understandable giving that it’s a small island, and “tourist” births, are outnumbering native births. I highly doubt race is an issue, being that Asians make up over 60% of Saipan.

  7. Birth tourism to U.S. is nothing new and (fairly?) legal as long as it is done via proper paperwork and for a right price – think thousands of Russian moms paying from $20 to 70K for 3+ months birth trips to Miami.
    What described here, though, borders to abusing the system, as there are no actual visa issuance process involved plus 45 days window is overall dangerous for both future mother and newborn.

  8. This had nothing to do with trump. If you had done any research you would know that it was the government of Saipan that asked for these changes to the visa requirements. It actually had NOTHING to do with immigration at all, instead their concern the health of the mother and child, since the mothers often arrive late in their pregnancies with no medical records of the care they have received.

  9. Yet again, a really misleading article again! The government of Saipan is a Territory and sets its own rules… Not Trump. I love the typical anti-Trump spins that you put on everything when you should stick to travel. I’ll stick to voting for Trump.

  10. Many airlines ban women in late stages of pregnancy from flying, especially on long-haul flights, regardless of their destination, ethnicity, or country of origin. It’s just simply not safe in late stages of pregnancy. And airlines don’t want to have the liability on their hands if something goes wrong at 35,000 ft over the Arctic or Pacific.

    I would agree that requiring passengers to take a pregnancy test is quite an invasion of privacy, though.

    As far as the birth tourism problem, that was clearly not the intent of the 14th Amendment. I would agree that it’s what it says and it’s the law, but it’s a bug, not a feature. The point of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (passed at the end of the Civil War) was to ensure that states couldn’t deny citizenship to former slaves (or black people in general, regardless of former slave status) and to explicitly state that they have the same rights and privileges under law as any other U.S. citizen. The point was not to allow people who don’t even live in the U.S. to come over for a few weeks to give birth and claim their child is a U.S. citizen. Given the (lack of) transportation options of the day, that wasn’t even considered as a thing that would be possible.

    Legal immigration to the U.S. does need to be made easier, but there also needs to be an Amendment to eliminate birthright citizenship. Almost no other country in the world grants citizenship to a child born to tourists there… because the notion is patently absurd. Granting citizenship to people who are born to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident would be reasonable. Granting it to the children of tourists who have never lived in the U.S. and don’t have permission to do so is not reasonable. Which is why almost no other country in the world does that.

  11. Canada has the same issue with anchor babies. Planeloads of pregnant Chinese women are transported to western Canada every year.

    They are a burden to overloaded maternity wards and many are known to skip paying their medical bills by jumping on the next available flight out of the country. The money they save on medical bills is spent on luxury goods at the airport duty free shop.

    Its a big business for the locals who enable this scam and a part of the profits are funneled to politicians who conveniently look the other way. Canadians avoid the topic because they are afraid of the backlash from activisits in the large Asian immigrant community who make a career of calling out “racist” behaviour.

    This is the ugly underbelly of a fair and generous immigration system that has enriched Canada with a steady flow of talented and hard working people from all parts of the world, not least from China. Only shows that you can find people everywhere who think that the rules only apply to others who are too stupid to figure out how to cheat the system

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