(New American) Women from China, Turkey, South Korea, and other countries around the globe have for some time been coming to America to have their babies to take advantage of what they’ve been told is a provision in the U.S. Constitution that grants their offspring automatic American citizenship. More recently, however, Chinese women have discovered a U.S. territory much closer to home that they can visit without a visa for up to 45 days, more than enough time to have their babies. The territory is Saipan, an island in the Northern Marianas, which is just a four to five hours’ flight from Shanghai and Guangzhou.
This maternity tourism “opportunity” was created when U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the establishment of the Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) Visa Waiver Program in January of 2009. Under the program, there are 36 countries for which the visa requirement was waived, plus six other countries that are part of a special visa waiver program. Citizens of Mainland China and Russia are eligible to visit the Northern Mariana Islands under a parole arrangement for up to 45 days.
A December 21 report in the Wall Street Journal noted that the Northern Marianas asked for the visa waiver to benefit its economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Tourism accounts for 72 percent of Saipan’s economy.
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