Birth tourism seems to be the main phenomenon in the increase of Russian migration in Argentina, what is it about?
LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero
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Today Argentina receives hundreds of Russian citizens daily, many of these are couples expecting to give birth and migrating in search of new opportunities away from the war between Russia and Ukraine. This phenomenon, known as birth tourism, is neither new nor does it happen only in Argentina.
What is birth tourism?
Birth tourism consists of traveling to a destination in order to give birth there, this is usually done in order for the baby to receive the citizenship of the place where it was born. Despite the fact that there are other reasons why this type of tourism is practiced, such as couples giving birth in other countries because other destinations may have cheaper or even free health services compared to the country of origin, the search of citizenship is the main one.
This type of citizenship is known as citizenship by birth or "ius soli", which means right to land, and its purpose is not only that the baby can have the political rights of the country of origin, but also that the baby's relatives can more easily access permanent residency and other rights. These babies are known as “anchor babies” or “passport babies”.
The United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Ireland are the places where birth tourism is most practiced. In the case of the United States, it must be taken into account that the migratory crises have put this practice under some control: during the Trump administration there were attempts to apply visa rules on pregnant women in order to lower the rate of immigrants into the country. However, giving birth in the United States is not a crime and the regulations around this phenomenon depend on the visa.
The increase in this phenomenon around the world has led countries such as Australia, France, Germany, among others, to decide to regulate their policies regarding childbirth tourism, which internationally is not seen as an illegal practice. Thus, now these countries require that at least one of the parents of the baby must be a citizen or legal permanent resident.
Why is Argentina a birth tourism destination for Russians?
Argentina is the country with the most immigrants in Latin America. According to UN data, by 2022 the country had 2.28 million immigrants, that is, 5% of the total population. The most important migrations that Argentina has received are from Italians, Spanish, French and Russians. Regarding the latter, it must be taken into account that the Russian population in Argentina has been forming since the end of the 19th century and its fifth wave occurred in 1985, which coincided with the perestroika reform of the Soviet Union.
However, with the outbreak of the war between Ukraine and Russia, it seems that we are facing a sixth wave of Russian migration to Argentina that is accompanied by the phenomenon of birth tourism. Georgy Polin, head of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in Argentina, estimated that for this year the number of Russian people traveling to Argentina for these purposes could reach 10,000. This is largely due to the fact that Russian citizens do not require a visa to travel to the Latin American country, but also to the ease of carrying out procedures such as extending the limit of stay and applying for a residence permit. This makes sense if we take into account that the country has prepared itself in terms of migration over the years and its system is much more efficient than in other countries in the region.
Although there are several Russians who practice childbirth tourism in order to return to their country of origin, they are the majority who seek to stay in the country to which they travel. Argentina is not the only destination, but it is one of the favorites for Russians seeking to flee the war that their government has started with Ukraine, a war with which many of them disagree. In Argentina they have found not only an escape, but also the possibility of a future.