Pregnant Russians flock to Argentina, seeking passports — and options — for their kids

More detailed account than elsewhere. In contrast to some earlier reports, appears many are fairly afflluent. And not all are birth tourists with some settling in Argentina:

Shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, Alla Prigolovkina and her husband, Andrei Ushakov, decided they had to flee their Sochi, Russia, home.

Ushakov had been detained for holding up a sign that read “Peace,” and Prigolovkina, a pregnant ski instructor, feared he would soon be drafted and potentially killed, leaving their baby fatherless.

The original plan was to stay in Europe, but anti-Russian sentiment discouraged them.

“We chose Argentina because it has everything we needed: Fantastic nature, a large country, beautiful mountains,” Prigolovkina, 34, told The Associated Press inside the home her family is renting in Argentina’s western Mendoza province. “We felt it would be ideal for us.”

They were hardly alone.

Over the past year, Argentine immigration authorities have noticed flights packed with dozens of pregnant Russians. But whereas Prigolovkina said her family intends to build a life here at the foot of the Andes mountains, local officials believe many of the other recent Russian visitors are singularly focused on receiving one of Argentina’s passports.

All children born in Argentina automatically receive citizenship and having an Argentine child speeds up the process for the parents to obtain residency permits and, after a couple of years, their own passports.

Crucially, the navy blue booklets allow entry to 171 countries without a visa, a backup plan that Russians believe could come in handy in the ever-uncertain future. Due to sanctions, Russians have also had trouble opening bank accounts in foreign countries, something an Argentine passport could solve.

According to official figures, some 22,200 Russians entered Argentina over the last year, including 10,777 women — many of whom were in the advanced stages of pregnancy. In January, 4,523 Russians entered Argentina, more than four times the 1,037 that arrived in the same month last year.

After an investigation, Argentine officials concluded that Russian women, generally from affluent backgrounds, were entering the country as tourists with the plan to give birth, obtain their documentation and leave. More than half of the Russians who entered the country in the last year, 13,134, already left, including 6,400 women.

“We detected that they don’t come to do tourism, they come to have children,” Florencia Carignano, the national director for migration, said during a meeting with international media.

Although Argentina generally has a relatively permissive immigration process, the recent arrest of two alleged Russian spies who had Argentine passports in Slovenia raised alarms in the South American country, where officials reinforced immigration controls.

“We canceled residencies of Russians who spent more time outside than in,” Carignano said, expressing concern the Argentine “passport will cease to have the trust it enjoys in all countries.”

Immigration authorities have also called on the justice system to investigate agencies that allegedly offer assistance to Russian women who want to give birth in Argentina.

It’s unclear how many women have left Russia to give birth in the last year, but the issue is big enough that lawmakers in Moscow this month raised the question of whether those who choose to give birth abroad should be stripped of the so-called maternity fund that all Russian mothers receive — a financial benefit of almost $8,000 for the first child and about $10,500 for the second.

There is no discussion on whether to cut off access to the maternity fund for Russian mothers who give birth abroad, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

The phenomenon also is not entirely new. Prior to the Russia-Ukraine war, Russian women were part of a wave of “birth tourists” in the U.S. and many paid brokers tens of thousands of dollars to arrange their travel documents, accommodations and hospital stays, often in Florida.

Embarking on a long journey during an advanced pregnancy can be particularly perilous, and Russians in Argentina insist that their decision to leave their homes goes beyond a new passport. Despite the government’s claims, some at least seem eager to make Argentina their new home.

In spite of the language barrier and the unfamiliar, stifling summer heat, Prigolovkina and Ushakov have quickly adopted Argentine customs since their July move. Prigolovkina said they especially enjoy spending time in the park with their dogs. And while the family may not have been interested in soccer in Russia, they happily cheered when their newly adopted country won the World Cup late last year.

Still, she also concedes that obtaining a passport for their newborn son, Lev Andrés, was a motivating factor for the move: “We wanted our baby to have the chance to not just be Russian and have a single passport.”

Some experts say a country in which migrants once made up as much as 30% of the population should be particularly sensitive to the plight of Russians trying to start a new life. The South American country was transformed in the late 19th and early 20th century by the influx of millions of European migrants, including many from Italy and Spain.

“Given our history of migration, a country like ours should empathize more with the humanitarian dimension” of these recent immigrants, Natalia Debandi, a social scientist and migrations expert who is a researcher at the publicly funded CONICET institute, said. “They are not terrorists, they are people.”

A study by immigration agents based on interviews with 350 newly arrived Russians concluded that most are married and largely well-off professionals who have remote jobs in finance and digital design or live off savings.

Days before giving birth to a boy named Leo, 30-year-old Russian psychologist Ekaterina Gordienko lauded her experience in Argentina, saying “the health care system is very good, and people are very kind. My only problem is Spanish. If the doctor doesn’t speak English, I use the (Google) translator.”

Gordienko arrived in the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires in December with her 38-year-old husband, Maxim Levoshin. “The first thing we want is for Leo to live in a safe country, without a war in his future,” Levoshin said.

In Mendoza, Prigolovkina is excited for her family’s new life in Argentina and optimistic they will be able to give back to the country that has welcomed them.

“We have left everything behind to live in peace. I hope that Argentines understand that Russians can be very useful in different areas of life, in business, the economy, in science,” she said. “They can help make Argentina better.”

Source: Pregnant Russians flock to Argentina, seeking passports — and options — for their kids

Argentina says mafia groups are spurring Russian birth tourism

Appears that there may be a similar cottage industry to that of Richmond but possibly with criminal elements rather than businesses. But articles have been conflicting whether the women have resources to pay for these services or are relatively destitute:

Argentine officials have blamed organized “mafias” for promoting birth tourism to the South American country by Russian mothers-to-be amid a boom in numbers traveling there since the invasion of Ukraine looking to get their children citizenship.

Thousands of expectant Russian mothers have arrived in Argentina over the last year, including 33 on a single flight last week, which threw a spotlight on the trend. Some were detained and officials launched a crackdown on the practice.

Florencia Carignano, head of Argentina’s immigration office, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that “mafia organizations were profiting by offering packages to obtain our passport to people who do not actually want to reside in our country.”

Russians can travel to Argentina without a visa, where all newborns are granted citizenship automatically, making it an attractive destination for so-called birth tourism.

“We detected a significant increase in the entry of Russian citizens in recent months. That is why we decided to investigate and we interviewed 350 of them who were in advanced pregnancy,” Carignano said.

“In the interviews we discovered that this organization offers people, in exchange for a large sum of money, a birth tourism package with the Argentine passport as the main reason for the trip.”

Carignano said that the immigration office had passed data related to the case to the country’s judiciary with the aim of defending the integrity of Argentina’s passport issuance.

Source: Argentina says mafia groups are spurring Russian birth tourism

Crackdown on ‘birth tourism’ as pregnant Russians flock to Argentina

Of note. Sharp contrast to the pre-pandemic and pre-invasion of Ukraine preference of oligarchs and ultra-rich Russians for Miami as these women appear to have limited financial resources. Given Canadian visa requirements, does not appear to be any surge in Canada although there are some lawyers who in the past had marketed their services to Russian birth tourists:

Immigration authorities in Argentina are cracking down on Russian women who since the invasion of Ukraine have started travelling to Buenos Aires to give birth in order to gain Argentinian citizenship for their children.

The director of Argentina’s immigration office, Florencia Carignano, said on Friday that a judicial investigation has been launched into what she described as a lucrative business that promises Argentinian passports for the Russian parents.

Carignano spoke after 33 expecting women – all between 32 and 34 weeks into their pregnancies – arrived on the same flight late on Thursday. Several of the women were initially turned away at passport control but were eventually let into the country.

While the concept of birth tourism isn’t new, Moscow’s isolation from the west as a result of the war has made Argentina, where Russians face no visa requirements, a popular destination for families looking to give their children the privileges of second citizenship.

Some 10,500 pregnant Russians have arrived in the South American country in the past year, Carignano said.

Carignano said in a Telenueve channel interview on Friday that “5,800 of them [were] in the last three months, many of them declaring they were in the 33rd or 34th week of pregnancy.”

The official said that about 7,000 of the women returned home after giving birth, leaving Argentinian lawyers charged with applying for Argentinian citizenship for the baby – and then the parents.

“The problem is that they arrive, have their children and then leave Argentina never to come back,” Carignano said. “We cannot allow them to shamelessly lie to us saying that they are tourists when they are not.”

Source: Crackdown on ‘birth tourism’ as pregnant Russians flock to Argentina

Here’s why Vancouver’s first baby of 2023 won’t be in Canada for long [birth tourism]

Classic birth tourism example. The couple came to Canada because “we chose Canada because the Canadian passport is better.” They couple had enough money to travel to Canada and pay the non-resident fees but now given complications and the deteriorating economic situation in Egypt are encountering financial hardships (unlike more wealthy women who come to Canada to give birth and can afford birth tourism residences).

The other point of note is the naiveté of the couple in being so frank about their reasons for coming to Vancouver, and it is rare to have those coming for birth tourism to be interviewed and quoted. The reporter lack of awareness of the citizenship aspects and related issues is also of note:

Baby girl Hana Amr Fouad was born at 2:54 a.m. on January 1, 2023, in Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital, weighing in at nine pounds 1.5 ounces. But circumstances surrounding her birth are not typical of a new year’s baby.

Parents Salma Gasser and Amr Fouad flew to Vancouver from Cairo, Egypt “to give the baby this opportunity,” says her father.

They carefully considered the place of Hana’s birth and secured visas for both the U.S. and Canada but ultimately, “we chose Canada because the Canadian passport is better,” explains Fouad. However, things haven’t quite gone to plan.

For starters, baby Hana was over a week late.

Gasser, whose brother lives in Vancouver, arrived in Canada two months ago and Fouad arrived just under a month ago. This is the pair’s first time in Canada.

Hana’s due date was Dec. 17 and the couple pre-paid for a natural birth but in the end, Gasser needed a C-section.

Mother and baby are resting at home with the midwife but the delay and changed birth plan have caused complications for the family.

Fouad says that since arriving in Canada, Egypt has imposed strict limits on credit cards and the value of the Egyptian pound has been steadily depreciating, both of which are putting unanticipated financial strain on the couple. The hospital bill for a C-section is also higher than for a natural birth so the couple is facing an unexpectedly higher cost for Hana’s birth. 

“We are still trying to figure it out,” says Fouad.

The family is anxiously awaiting the birth certificate for baby Hana – which can take up to six weeks to be issued – and then plan to secure a Canadian passport for their daughter. They will be returning home to Egypt but have plans of coming back to B.C. in the future.

“We hear Vancouver is much nicer in the summer,” he says.

Source: Here’s why Vancouver’s first baby of 2023 won’t be in Canada for long

Birth tourism dad from China suing B.C. hospital, doctors and ‘birth hotel’

First case like this that I have heard of. Not totally unexpected given the pre-pandemic numbers at Richmond Hospital mean that such disputes could have been expected:

The father of a child born in B.C. via Canada’s controversial “birth tourism” route is suing the doctors who delivered the baby and the so-called “birth hotel” which brought the family from China.

Peng Chen, on behalf of his now four-year-old son Stephen, alleges that two doctors — Brenda Tan and Balbinder Gill — as well as Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), were negligent in the provision of medical care to Stephen and his mother, Rang Heng, at Richmond Hospital.

His lawsuit makes references to complications at the time of Stephen’s birth, resulting in his son being in the intensive care unit for several days afterwards.

Chen, a resident of China, claims that, as a result of their negligence in 2018, his son suffered brain damage, seizures, delayed growth and development, cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment.

He further alleges that Jie Zheng and a Ms. Liang — who operated or worked at ABC, a birthing house on Ash Street in Richmond — misrepresented the level of antenatal and/or perinatal care and expertise that his wife and child would receive in Canada.

Chen claims that, because he had “little or no knowledge of the health-care system in Canada” he was “particularly vulnerable” to the alleged misrepresentations from Zheng and Liang.

He alleged that ABC was negligent in misrepresenting the level of care, both in its adverts in China and to the family when they arrived in Canada.

Chen said he entered into an agreement with ABC for Stephen to be born in Canada and that they arrived at the Richmond birth house in January of 2018, three months before the birth at Richmond Hospital.

Two other unnamed doctors and two unnamed nurses working at Richmond Hospital on the day of Stephen’s birth are also named in the suit.

All named defendants in the lawsuit have denied any negligence.

The allegations are more than four years old, but Dr. Tan’s legal team recently won a court application to have a video conference with Stephen’s mother, because her husband has, thus far, been unable to answer any questions with regard to Tan’s care of his wife and child.

Child suffered ‘hypoxia, ischemia’ to brain, father claims

With regard to the specifics of the day of the birth, Chen claims his wife attended Richmond Hospital in the early hours of April 18, 2018, but was discharged with instructions to return when labour had progressed.

Later that day, according to the lawsuit, Heng returned to the hospital and, at some point not specified, was given oxytocin – which promotes the progress of labour.

Chen claims that, between his wife being given oxytocin and the actual birth, Stephen “suffered hypoxia and ischemia to his brain.”

He said his son required resuscitation and several days of intensive care.

Chen claims that the unnamed nurses failed to ensure timely medical intervention to prevent brain damage and they failed to properly investigate, assess or evaluate his wife’s medical history prior to the birth and failed to alert other health professionals of fetal distress in a timely fashion.

He alleges that doctors Tan, who he says was the family’s assigned GP, and Gill and the two unnamed doctors failed to provide adequate prenatal care to his wife and failed to assess the risk factors in view of his wife’s medical history and “physical presentation.”

Chen claims that the doctors also failed to properly advise his wife of the risks of vaginal delivery or discuss the options to it.

And he alleges that, as a result of his son’s injuries, he, his wife and family members have to provide care above and beyond what would be reasonable out of “natural love and affection.”

Chen, on behalf of Stephen, is seeking unspecified general and special damages and health-care costs.

Vancouver Coastal Health denies negligence

VCH, which runs Richmond Hospital, has denied any negligence on its part or that of its employees and is disputing many of Chen’s claims, including Stephen’s injuries.

In its version of events, VCH claims Chen’s wife was admitted to hospital at around 12:15 a.m. on the day of the birth and that the second stage of labour started at around 7 p.m, almost two hours before the birth.

It states in its response to the claims that all care of Chen’s wife was “appropriate” and “in accordance with a reasonable standard of practice and procedure,” adding that nothing it or its employees did or failed to do contributed to the alleged injuries to Stephen.

VCH is seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit and seeks its costs associated with defending itself.

Birth doctors claim they did their jobs

Dr. Tan, in her response to the claim, denies that she was an agent of Richmond Hospital or that of the birthing house business ABC and is also disputing the alleged injuries suffered by Stephen.

She said she became Chen’s wife’s GP two months before the birth for the purposes of providing antenatal care and met with her several times in her office.

Tan has denied negligence and that the care she provided to Chen’s wife and son was appropriate and in accord with standard medical practice.

She added in her response that Chen’s wife was informed of the risks associated with the treatment received and gave consent.

Dr. Gill, meanwhile, denies that he assisted with the delivery of Stephen, claiming that he only helped Chen’s wife push the baby out, when it became apparent there was an emergency.

In response to Chen’s claims that Stephen suffered hypoxia and ischemia to his brain prior to being born, Gill said the child was born with “no respiratory effort and no heart rate detected.”

He said that, once the baby was delivered, “best efforts were made to provide resuscitation” until the child was transferred to a “higher level of care.”

Similarly to Dr. Tan, Gill said the care and assessment given to Stephen were “reasonable in the circumstances and consistent with that expected of pediatricians practicing” in B.C. and that nothing he did or did not do contributed to any alleged injuries or loss to the child.

And if there were any injuries to the child, Gill said it was not his fault and could have been caused by other defendants or unknown parties.

Gill further alleges that the injuries in question could have been caused by the negligence of Chen and his wife by failing to take reasonable care of their own health and failing to seek medical attention at the “onset of signs or symptoms,” failing to provide a complete and accurate history of health-care providers and failing to follow the advice of health-care providers.

Both Tan and Gill are asking for the claims against them be dismissed and they be awarded costs.

What is ‘birth tourism?’

So-called “birth tourism” is when pregnant, non-Canadian women fly to Canada in order to give birth and secure citizenship for their babies.

In addition to receiving benefits, like healthcare and education, when the children become adults, they can also sponsor their parents to immigrate to Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agency has said previously that pregnancy is not a reason in itself to refuse entry to the country to a tourist.

However, if a foreign national is seeking entry to Canada for the purpose of undergoing medical treatment and can’t show he or she has the money to pay for it, then that person could be deemed as a potential excessive demand on health service.

The practice has been a hot topic for many years, especially in Richmond, due to its Chinese population and proximity to Vancouver International Airport.

Earlier this week, the Richmond News’ parent company Glacier Media reported how birth tourism rates — which plummeted during the pandemic — are expected to spike again when the Chinese government lifts pandemic travel restrictions.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, B.C. hospitals recorded 110 non-residents of Canada who paid to give birth, based on data obtained from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI). Last year, 194 such births were recorded.

However, in the year prior to the pandemic, a record 868 self-paying non-residents — the vast majority of whom are understood to be Chinese nationals on tourist visas — garnered automatic citizenship for their newborns.

Richmond Hospital has been, for many years, at the epicentre of the industry, with 502 non-resident births in 2019-2020.

And the so-called “birth hotels” in the city are not breaking any laws.

Source: Birth tourism dad from China suing B.C. hospital, doctors and ‘birth hotel’

Is birth tourism about to return now that travel restrictions have been lifted?

My annual update:

COVID-19 continues to provide the perfect natural experiment to assess the extent of “birth tourism” – when women visit Canada for the purpose of giving birth here and thus obtaining Canadian citizenship for their child. Two years in, the data shows a decrease of almost eight per cent, compared to 2020-21 and almost 52 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic 2016-20 average, in the number of “non-resident self-pay” births in Canada.

As Figure 1 indicates, there was a steady increase of non-resident births prior to the pandemic. But after COVID-related travel restrictions were implemented in 2020, there was a sharp drop, with no recovery in 2021. This provides a very good indication of the extent of birth tourism in Canada. Now that the restrictions are loosening and travel is once again opening up, it’s time for the federal government to revisit its policy on non-resident births and Canadian citizenship.

The decline to 2,245 in 2021 from 2,433 in 2020 occurred in all provinces save Quebec, which remained relatively stable (Table 1). The decline was particularly notable in British Columbia, where most birth tourists pre-pandemic were from China – a country most affected by travel restrictions. The drop is in stark contrast to steady increases over the previous five-year period.

A similar decline in visitor visas and birth tourists has been noted in the United States.

The percentage of non-resident births in Canada fell from slightly less than two per cent of total births in 2019 to 0.7 per cent in 2020 and has remained at that level. Given increased immigration, the percentage of non-resident births also fell during the same period.

As noted in previous articles, the non-resident self-pay code that is the basis for the analysis is broader than that of women who arrive on visitor visas. It includes international students, about half of whom are covered by provincial health plans, and other temporary residents. Visitor visas recovered to only 57 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2021-22 while visas for temporary workers have more than recovered from pre-pandemic levels. Visitor visas for Chinese nationals, one of the major groups, have recovered to only 21 per cent of former levels compared to 57 per cent of previous levels for all visitor visas. Chinese government travel-related restrictions are likely a significant factor in the reduced number.

Table 2 provides a hospital-level view of the impact of COVID, contrasting pre- and post-pandemic years in terms of non-resident and total births for the 10 hospitals with the largest percentage of non-resident births. Non-resident births continued to decline in most hospitals. British Columbia’s Richmond Hospital – the epicentre of birth tourism with its supportive “cottage industry” of “birth hotels” – has been the hardest hit. There was a decrease of 95.6 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

This suggests that my initial estimate from 2018 that about 50 per cent of non-resident births were due to birth tourism was conservative, and that the percentage of “tourism births” is about one per cent of all births (or about 0.4 per cent of current immigration levels).

Three federal immigration ministers later, the government has not have followed up on its 2018 commitment to “better understand the extent of this practice as well as its impacts” following the first release of the Canadian Institute for Health Information numbers and related media attention. The 2021-22 decline understandably reduces political interest and pressure in addressing the issue, particularly at a time of government and stakeholder support of increased immigration, as the proportion on “non-resident” self-pay is only about 0.5 per cent of permanent resident admissions, having fallen from 1.7 per cent pre-pandemic.

Given the current focus on increased immigration, it is highly unlikely that the government will take action. The numbers are very small compared to the planned level of 500,000 immigrants to Canada in 2025 and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s current policy and operational challenges. However, given that visitor visas have largely reverted to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, growth in birth tourism can be expected in future years.

The government should address the policy deficit in this area. There appears to be public support for some action. A 2019 Angus Reid survey indicated that the vast majority of Canadians would support removing birthright citizenship for children born to women on visitor visas.

The use of CIHI data to quantify the extent of birth tourism, albeit approximately, highlights the potential in greater linkages between immigration and health data. With respect to birth tourism, the ability to distinguish between non-resident births for visitors, international students and temporary workers would provide greater precision on the extent of the practice.

It would also allow for more informed analysis and understanding of the health outcomes of immigrants and would identify opportunities for improvement.

The policy and operational questions remain as to whether the extent of birth tourism warrants an amendment to the Citizenship Act, visa restrictions on women intending to give birth in Canada, or other administrative and regulatory measures to curtail the practice. Because visa restrictions would be difficult to administer, and because regional administrative and regulatory measures may well encourage hospital and jurisdiction “shopping,” the “cleanest” approach would be an amendment to the Citizenship Act that would make Canadian citizenship dependent on one parent being a citizen or permanent resident, comparable to the situation in Australia.

A note on methodology 

The data is from the CIHIs Discharge Abstract Database, more specifically the responsible for funding program (RRFP) non-resident self-pay” category, as well as totals for hospital deliveries. The RRFP data include temporary residents on visitor visas, international students, foreign workers and visiting Canadian citizens, and permanent residents. While Quebec has a slightly different coding system, CIHI ensures its data is comparable. 

Health coverage for international students varies by provinces, but most are covered by provincial health plans. This is not the case in Manitoba and Ontario, and for some students in Quebec whose country of origin does not have a social security agreement with Quebec. The pre-pandemic baseline is the five-year average 2016-20.

Mackenzie Health’s Woman and Child program moved from Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital to Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital when it opened to the community in June 2021.

Source: Is birth tourism about to return now that travel restrictions have been lifted?

Savory & Partners: Birthright citizenship and the exciting world of birth tourism

Have an update on Canadian numbers forthcoming but in the meantime, the marketing by one of the major citizenship-by-investment firms:

Jus Soli, or birthright citizenship, is a concept that has been applied for centuries throughout various countries. The premise of birthright citizenship is simple; those born within a country’s borders are granted direct citizenship.

However, in practice, birthright citizenship can get quite complicated, as each country continues to set its own laws and restrictions.

What is Jus Soli?

In April this year, Portugal passed a legislation regarding Jus Soli. According to this law, after one year of having a Portuguese residency, should you have a child born, they would be able to obtain Portuguese nationality immediately.

The idea of obtaining a preferable citizenship for one’s children remains a major attraction, and in a world where travel times are short and visas are plentiful, it has given birth to a new type of tourism altogether – birth tourism.

“Jus Soli, or birthright citizenship, is a concept that has been applied for centuries throughout various countries. The premise is simple; those born within a country’s borders are granted direct citizenship.”

Birth tourism refers to those who obtain a visit visa to give birth to their child in a country that has Jus Soli laws in place, allowing them to obtain a citizenship for their newborn.

Unlike immigrants giving birth to their children abroad in their new country of residence, birth tourism only requires a visit visa and a well-timed trip.

One of the countries with the highest birth tourism rate is unsurprisingly the USA, as the nation has unrestricted birthright citizenship laws in place, allowing anyone born on its land to obtain US citizenship directly.

While birth tourism is not easily tracked, the Center For Immigration Studies, a US based think tank, estimates that 33,000 people on visit visas give birth in the US each year. The center also states that most of these birth tourists hail from China, Taiwan, Korea, Nigeria, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, and neighboring Mexico.

The premise of birth tourism has quickly grown, but those considering it must be aware of the country’s birthright citizenship laws, as not all Jus Solis are born equal, and traveling to a country to give birth for the purposes of gaining citizenship without understanding birthright citizenship regulations can be a costly and futile affair.

Understanding Birthright Citizenship

First, there are unrestricted and restricted birthright citizenship laws. Unrestricted birthright citizenship means that anyone born on the soil of a nation will automatically obtain citizenship, no matter their circumstances. This is the case in the US, Canada, and even Brazil, which many estimate may be one of the most birth-touristic countries in the world thanks to its powerful passport and easy visa process.

Other countries have restricted birthright citizenship, which means that in addition to being born within the country’s jurisdiction. This is the case in the UK and Ireland, for example, where to gain citizenship in the former, one of the newborn’s parents must either be a citizen or a settled resident in the UK. Settled in this context refers to someone on a permanent residence permit, or an indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

As for Ireland, one of the parents must actually be a full-fledged citizen, hence negating the entire premise of birth tourism.

Most countries allow the children of their citizens born abroad to apply for citizenship; and with a few exceptions such as Saudi Arabia requiring the father to be a Saudi national for the child to obtain citizenship, it allows for people who venture into birth tourism to obtain dual citizenship for their newborn on the day they are born.

Understanding the laws of birthright citizenship is the first obstacle, the second is getting to the country at the right time. This usually requires a visa, unless a person has visa-free travel to a country, and in the case of the US, it is difficult for pregnant women to obtain B1 or B2 visas during their second and third trimesters.

The Dual Benefits of a Dual Citizenship

Nevertheless, birth tourism remains highly attractive, especially for those who have already obtained a second citizenship through investment. For example, a person that obtains a Maltese citizenship through investment gains the ability to travel visa free to the US and Canada, two countries with unrestricted birthright citizenship, and the latter even provides free healthcare.

By getting a Maltese citizenship, a person can structure it so that their child is born in the US or Canada, giving them a third citizenship in the process, in addition to the Maltese one and their original citizenship, essentially tearing down all mobility obstacles in their child’s path and providing them with the tools they need to fulfill their potential.

Another simplified route that allows people to get another citizenship for their children is through the Portuguese golden visa, which awards those who invest in Portugalwith a residency permit for themselves and their family members. If a person has a golden visa and has a child within Portugal then that child can become a citizenship after one year of their birth. As the golden visa has a fast track to citizenship after five years and minimal residence (just seven days a year), it is an excellent option for those looking to get a second citizenship for their children in a relatively short time frame while also laying the groundwork for getting the citizenship themselves a little farther in the future.

Birthright citizenship on its own remains a very interesting topic, however, when combined with citizenship by investment, it can yield outstanding results that are open to very few people around the world.

To know more about citizenship through birthright or investment, contact us today to talk with one of our second citizenship experts.

Source: Savory & Partners: Birthright citizenship and the exciting world of birth tourism

Impact of birth tourism on health caresystems in Calgary, Alberta

This is exactly the kind of detail that is needed for regions and hospitals that have high numbers of non-resident births.

Some highlights of the study from my perspective:

  • 102/227 patients were identified as birth tourist (45 percent)
  • 83% of patients stated they came to Canada with a Visitor Visa
  • Country of origin: Nigeria (25%), Middle East (18%) China (11%), and India (8%) and Mexico (6%), none from Western Europe or Australia
  • 77% stated that their primary reason to deliver their baby in Canada was for the the baby to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, while only 8% stated their reason to deliver in Canada was to access better health care
  • Almost a third of women had a known preexisting medical condition
  • 29 mothers and 17 newborns had unpaid invoices, $290,000 and $404,000 respectively at the time the report was written.

More kind of this detailed analysis by medical professionals and researchers is needed rather than the legal and policy analyses that diminish the issue (disclosure the researchers and I have been in contact over the past few years).

Hospitals where studies would be useful would be for the top ten hospitals with the largest percentage of non-resident births:

Funding should be provided for these kind of empirical studies rather than for more ideological studies such as the one underway by Megan Gaucher, Jamie Lieu and Amanda Cheong (Insight Grant 2021 Birth Tourism and Citizenship):

Background:  Birth  tourism  refers  to  non-resident  women  giving  birth  in  a  country  outside  of  their  own  in  order  to obtain  citizenship  and/or  healthcare  for  their  newborns. We  undertook  a  study  to  determine  the  extent  of  birth  tourism  in  Calgary,  the  characteristics  and  rationale  of  this  population,  and  the  fnancial  impact  on  the  healthcare  system.

Methods:  A  retrospective  analysis  of  102  women  identifed  through  a  Central Triage  system  as  birth  tourists  who delivered  in  Calgary  between  July  2019  and  November  2020  was  performed.  Primary  outcome  measures  were  mode of  delivery,  length  of  hospital  stay,  complications  or  readmissions  within  6  weeks  for  mother  or  baby,  and  NICU  stay for  baby.

Results:  Birth Tourists  were  most  commonly  from  Nigeria  (24.5%).  77%  of  Birth Tourists  stated  that  their  primary  reason  to  deliver  their  baby  in  Canada  was  for  newborn  Canadian  citizenship. The  average  time  from  arrival  in  Calgary  to the  EDD  was  87  days.  Nine  babies  required  stay  in  the  neonatal  intensive  care  unit  (NICU)  and  3  required  admission  to a  non  NICU  hospital  ward  in  frst  6  weeks  of  life,  including  2  sets  of  twins. The  overall  amount  owed  to  Alberta  Health Services  for  hospital  fees  for  this  time  period  is  approximately  $694  000.00.

Conclusion:  Birth Tourists  remain  a  complex  and  poorly  studied  group. The  process  of  Central Triage  did  help  suport  providers  in  standardizing  process  and  documentation  while  ensuring  that  communication  was  consistent. These  fndings  provide  preliminary  data  to  guide  targeted  public  health  and  policy  interventions  for  this  population.

Source: Impact of birth tourism on health care systems in Calgary, Alberta

ICYMI: Its critics call it ‘birth tourism.’ But is the practice real? COVID-19 is providing clues

The COVID-19 pandemic and the border closures and travel restrictions that came with it seem to have put a dent in the number of non-Canadians coming to this country to deliver their babies.

The latest government data offers what may be an unprecedented look at the practice that has been controversially dubbed “birth tourism.”

It shows the number of “non-resident self-pay” new births in the country dropped by 57 per cent during the first full year of the global crisis, between April 2020 and March 2021 — from 5,698 the year earlier down to 2,433. 

Observers have stressed that the practice of coming to Canada to deliver a baby is legal and cautioned that its frequency has been overblown by critics, drawing focus at times more for reasons of racism than for pragmatic concerns.

All babies born in Canada receive automatic Canadian citizenship. 

The Liberal government has said it’s committed to investigating the issue of foreign nationals taking a shortcut to obtain citizenship for their children by giving birth in Canada, but no policy recommendations or changes have been made to date.

Under normal times, it’s hard for researchers to pinpoint the number of visitors who came here with the main purpose of giving birth, because the data would also capture non-residents who delivered babies while working or studying in this country. 

But the pandemic’s unique circumstances brought with them novel data.

As Canada has imposed restrictive measures against the entry of non-essential travellers but not international students and temporary foreign workers, the data for the first time gives a more precise picture of the extent of those coming to Canada to deliver babies.

“This really provides you with what Nobel Prize-winning economist David Card called a natural experiment, where there was one variable that changed and it affected one group disproportionately,” says researcher Andrew Griffith, whose findings will be published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy on Thursday.

“This basically confirms that when you don’t have visitors’ visas, you have a major drop in birth tourists because that’s how they come in.”

Based on hospital delivery data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information, a Crown corporation, Griffith looked at the number of times the cost of delivering babies in hospitals over the past decade was paid out of the patients’ own pocket.

The number surged yearly from 1,863 in 2010 to a peak of 5,698 in 2019, before it nosedived last year, which coincided with a 95 per cent drop in the number of visitors’ visas issued by Canada.

In comparison, the number of international students fell by only 25 per cent, while the number of temporary foreign workers actually increased by 5.5 per cent.

Griffith estimates that the percentage of “tourism births” has now reached one per cent of all births in Canada in an average year.

“This is really a question of the integrity of the citizenship program. If you come here as a permanent resident, you have to meet the residency requirements, you have to meet the knowledge requirements, you have to meet the language requirements. There’s a whole process that you have to go through to be Canadian citizens,” said Griffith, a fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and Environics Institute.

“This is legal but it’s still a loophole that allows basically fairly affluent women and families to shortcut the process, find a backdoor entry and without going through the standard process of becoming a Canadian citizen.”

The citizenship afforded to these Canadian-born children allow them to automatically access health care, local education and tuition fees, as well as other government benefits.

While any visa restriction against pregnant women visiting Canada would be difficult to administer and enforce, Griffith said Ottawa could change the citizenship act to require at least one parent to be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada for citizenship to be conferred to a Canadian-born child, as Australia does.

The former Conservative government explored similar legislative changes in 2012, but the idea was abandoned due to opposition from provincial governments, which are responsible for the administration of birth certificates, a key document for citizenship. The number of people coming to Canada for the express purpose of delivering a baby was estimated at just 500 at the time and such changes were considered not worthy of the hefty administrative costs.

“We have more accurate data now,” said Griffith. 

In a 2019 survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 64 per cent of Canadians said a child born to parents who are in this country on tourist visas should not be granted Canadian citizenship, and 60 per cent said changes to the citizenship laws are necessary to discourage birth tourism.

Critics have argued that any requirement of one parent being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident could lead to children, such as those born here to refugee claimants, to be stateless.

“Anything to deal with immigration and citizenship basically has some form of discrimination. Who do you let in? Who do you not let in? What are the criteria to allow somebody to become citizen,” said Griffith.

“Is it too rigid? Is it too open? You are always going to have the debate over how you cut the line in the right place.”


My Policy Options article which formed the basis for the reporting:;!!AlmGDlt8!iF8vkNntsOxOaoiOptdZnIP6_nTznLbhJ0nHgByjTRO0V5pBnecrGb7ZGeXR858$

Years after savage attack on newborns, birth tourism schemes thrive in NYC

While from the populist press, some interesting coverage of the birth tourism industry in NYC:

Three years after a deranged nanny savagely stabbed three babies in a Queens “birthing center,” the assailant will not face trial – and the unregulated, makeshift maternity wards for foreign women have only multiplied in New York City.

Some immigration experts call the “birth tourism” industry that supports these baby businesses a national security threat, as they aggressively promote themselves overseas as places for mothers to give birth to instant American citizens.

Yu Fen Wang was working as a nanny at the Meibao Birthing Care Center in Flushing on Sept. 21, 2018 when she attacked three newborns, along with two adults, while screaming she was trying to kill wolves.

Wang “was found to be not responsible due to mental disease or defect and was committed to a mental health facility” on Nov. 20, a Queens DA spokeswoman told the The Post.

All five victims in the bloody rampage survived. But baby Chloe Cao, then only days old and a New York City resident, has scars and nerve damage from the attack, according to family attorney Kenny Jiang. The two other babies and their families reportedly went back to China.

The Cao family has since filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Meibao Center’s operators, Xuexin Lin and Meiying Gao. The lawsuit remains active, and is pending the return of civil court judges on May 24. Their babycare center, now closed, was shoehorned into a three-family home in a residential neighborhood.

The attack opened a window into New York City’s thriving underground baby tourism industry, where moms-to-be visit the United States, often with immigration and paperwork assistance from one of these services, give birth in an American hospital, often on the taxpayer dime, and then spend weeks in recovery at one of these types of maternity centers. Often the facility is no more than a bedroom or partitioned space in a private home. The moms soon return home with their baby, a legitimate American citizen.

Shockingly, the 2018 bloodbath apparently did little to dissuade foreign nationals from continuing to flood these NYC centers, or to prompt local pols and agencies to begin cracking down on, or regulating, them.

The Post recently found ads for more than 80 local centers, most clustered in Flushing, advertised in Chinese-language media. A visit to several of the advertised addresses revealed each one to be in a private home.

A search of the phrase “going to the USA to give birth to a baby” last week on Chinese search engine Baidu yielded 6.3 million results.

The birthing businesses appear to be unlicensed and unregulated, and they falsely advertise overseas and on foreign websites by trumpeting deeply ingrained traditions of postnatal care. In Chinese and other cultures, relatives, friends or hired women often care for a baby in its first month of life while the mother recuperates.

“The New York Angel Baby Birthing Center … has been officially registered and certified by the U.S. government and operated in a personalized, scientific and professional manner,” reads one ad on a Chinese-language website. “As long as you have a U.S. visa, let us do the rest in realizing your dreams.”

Another reads: “Cross East U.S. Maternity Service Center provides a full range of U.S. childbirth services, allowing you to easily have an American baby with a higher starting point in life and more choices in the future … everything is governed by relevant U.S. laws. As long as you have a U.S. visa, you can leave everything else to us.”

Families, according to some online ads, are promised help with everything from the immigration processing to health care for their baby from a government-regulated medical facility.

“Our team will provide you with a full service from visa preparation to safe return to China, covering life, medical treatment and legal aspects,” reads one ad for the Ankang facility listed at 48-33 192nd St. in Queens.

Famiies often pay six figures for month-long stays at the centers.

The Post confronted nearly a dozen of the centers, and visited six of them, but inquiries were met with silence or denials. It is not clear if these facilities provide any other legitimate services.

The private maternity centers in Flushing are largely clustered around New York Presbyterian Hospital on Main Street in Queens and the ads often promote the proximity of health care facilities. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment.

Birth tourism is “immigration fraud, a burden on the American taxpayer and a national security risk,” Marguerite Telford, director of communications for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C., told The Post.

“I see this as a grave national security concern and vulnerability,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Mark Zito told reporters following the 2019 indictment of a Southern California birth tourism ring, saying he fears hostile governments will use the access of American citizens within their midst to “take advantage” of the U.S.

“Birth tourism can create U.S. citizens who … don’t necessarily share our values and may have allegiances to countries of concern, [who] can nonetheless return to the United States as adults with their U.S. passports in hand,” said Jon Feere, former chief of staff for ICE.

One immigration expert said that many “birth tourists” who have their babies in the United States are wealthy and connected with the Communist party.

No state or local agency contacted by The Post accepted responsibility for the fly-by-night babycare business.

The city Administration for Children’s Services said it does not license or regulate childcare facilities and directed The Post to the NYPD. The NYPD referred immigration issues to the “appropriate agency.” The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection said it had no jurisdiction. The city Health Department pointed to Albany. The state Health Department said it “has regulatory oversight of licensed health care facilities, such as hospitals … not places involved in ‘birth tourism.’”

Local elected officials who publicly demanded an investigation and reforms in the immediate aftermath of the attack, have also failed to act.

“Once we have the facts, my colleagues and I will work very closely to close any loopholes in the system to make sure that we will never see this kind of ugliness in our community again,” Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim said at the time.

Kim did not respond to more than a half dozen messages seeking comment. City Councilman Peter Koo also did not respond to repeated messages.

Kim told one local outlet at the time that a crackdown on similar “unsafe” facilities in Los Angeles “spurred a new market in places like Queens and Long Island.”

The feds in 2015 dismantled a group of maternity centers in California and then in 2019 charged 19 individuals with running a birth tourism ring that catered to wealthy Chinese women seeking U.S. citizenship for their babies.

One of the defendants in that case, Dongyuan Li, paid cash for a $2.1 million home in Irvine, Calif. and for a $118,000 Mercedes, according to the indictment. She has since pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and one count of visa fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who represents Flushing, said days after the attack that she would pursue legislation, if needed, to prevent similar incidents.

But she recently told The Post that there will likely be no state action, that it’s an issue for city agencies and federal immigration officials.

“This medical tourism, maternity tourism, is very common in the Asian community, even for locals,” said Stavisky. “The certificate of occupancy, this is where the city can step in and perhaps check in on some of these things. Locally, the zoning laws are very lax.”

The city Buildings Department lists nearly a dozen services not allowed as home businesses, but child care is not among them. The City Planning Department, which oversees zoning issues such as commercial enterprises operating in residential areas, did not return messages.

Babies born in the United States are American citizens according to the 14th Amendment, a status coveted by many foreigners for the access it provides to education, health care, employment and other opportunities, sometimes funded by taxpayers.

The children enjoy U.S. citizenship even if they quickly return to their mother’s homeland and grow up overseas. These American-born children can then fast-track family members to become U.S. citizens once they reach adulthood, said Telford from the Center for Immigration Studies.

“American citizenship is still the most desirable thing in the world,” said Jiang, the attorney representing Baby Chloe and her family. “The scale of the problem is just amazing.”

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates 33,000 babies are born to women on tourist visas each year, while hundreds of thousands more babies are born to illegal aliens or mothers holding temporary visas.

Telford said the mothers commit fraud by visiting the U.S. on a tourist visa for the unstated purpose of having a baby.

“Tourists who come to the United States to give birth and receive taxpayer-funded public assistance to cover the associated costs of their births or have the expenses waived by a hospital do not have to pay back any of the funds in order to get a future tourist visa,” reports the CIS.

A 2015 study of birth tourism by Dr. Michel Mikhael of Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., found that its babies had longer hospital stays, required more surgical intervention and cost more than twice as much as U.S. resident births.

The Trump administration in early 2020, in the wake of crackdown on these facilities in California, directed immigration officials to deny women visas if they determined the expectant mothers were coming to the United States solely to give birth.

And Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in January introduced a bill that would make it illegal to visit the United States for the purposes of having a baby. She said, “American citizenship should not be for sale.”

Source: Years after savage attack on newborns, birth tourism schemes thrive in NYC

And ICYMI, an earlier article by Graeme Wood on the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions on birth tourism in Richmond (will do a national update this summer once I have the CIHI data):

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many sectors, and this includes birth tourism in Richmond.

Richmond Hospital saw non-resident births drop from about 40 per month to an average of 10 per month in the first five months of the pandemic, a drop of about 75 per cent.

There were 57 babies born to non-resident mothers between April 1 and mid-September, according to Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), who released the number in response to a Freedom of Information request.

In the previous 12 months (April 2019 to March 2020), there were 507 babies born to non-resident mothers at Richmond Hospital, which is about one-quarter of all births at the hospital.

During the first part of the pandemic, the number of babies born to non-residents was about eight per cent of all births.

Birth tourism falls under federal jurisdiction – Canada allows anyone born in the country to receive Canadian citizenship under a principle called “jus soli.”

Birth tourism is when women intentionally come to Canada to give birth in order to secure a Canadian passport for their child.