Damilola Oyedele â€¨in Abujaâ€¨
Contrary to the widely held notions in the polity that to deliver a baby in the United States, a pregnant woman has to conceal her pregnancy during her visa interview and while entering the US, or she has to travel before her pregnancy starts to show, the US Embassy has clarified that it is okay to decide to have a baby in the country.
This is against the backdrop of the practise where some Nigerians deliberately lie during visa interviews in their bid to secure automatic US citizenship for their children.
The Embassy outlined some conditions which have to be met before such a visa which falls under medical tourism category is issued.
This it said, is necessary to encourage applicants to be truthful during visa interviews.
One: The applicant has to show proof of available funds of at least $140,000 (about N22 million) to pay medical fees, and secondly, the applicant has to show proof of the need for medical attention in the US such as high risk pregnancy and the likes.
US Embassy Chief of Consular Section, Ms. Carol Cox, in an interview with select journalists in Abuja, yesterday disclosed that it would cost at least $60,000 to have a baby in the US.
In instances where complications arise from the delivery, the medical bills may go as high as $140,000.
Availability of the funds, Cox said is very important as it is necessary to ensure that American taxpayers do not have to pay such bills.
“We owe the American public who pay taxes to make sure that those who seek medical services in the US pay for such services. This is essential because there are those who have the money and are not willing to pay.
“It is very frustrating when you see a woman who is obviously pregnant, sometimes seven months gone, tell you during a visa interview that she is just going to the US for a vacation,” she said.
Commenting on the fate of those who have incurred bans in the process of visa applications, Cox said while they are allowed to appeal, the outcome would be determined by the gravity of what incurred the ban in the first instance.
She added that it would be difficult for such appeals to come through in instances of fraud.
“It is important for applicants to be truthful because if there is any discrepancy in what you say and what you have written in your form, your credibility is gone,” she said.
Speaking on visa wait times, the embassy has reduced the wait times from six weeks to 30 days for applicants in Abuja, and to 21 days for applicants in Lagos, she disclosed.
Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy, Ms. Debra MacLean reiterated that the visa is not a guarantee that an applicant would enter the US.
“If the applicant is found to have materially misrepresented his purpose of visit, the immigration officer at the airport may refuse him or her entry. This officer is the one who really determines who enters the US,” she clarified.