KEY POINTS

  • A Hong Kong airline made a woman have a pregnancy test before boarding a flight to Saipan
  • In 2018, there was a higher number of tourists than residents who gave birth in Saipan
  • Immigration authorities mandate tourists to have return tickets when going to Saipan

 A Japanese citizen was asked to take a pregnancy test to prove that she was not pregnant before boarding a flight to Saipan.

Midori Nishida was flying from Hong Kong to the Northern Mariana Islands to visit her parents. Upon getting to the airport for her flight, she claimed Hong Kong Express Airways asked her to do a fit-to-fly assessment, which means a pregnancy test.

She was then given escorted to a public restroom and handed a strip on which she could urinate.

The test was part of the airline’s concerns in Saipan. The Island is now a favored destination for women intending to give birth making their children eligible to be American citizens. 

In 2018, there was a higher number of tourists than residents who gave birth in Saipan, which is the largest Island.

Ms. Nishida complied, and the test was negative, but she termed the experience as frustrating and humiliating.

A Hong Kong express airways representative did not respond to a comment request from media outlets, but they apologized for the incident in a statement to the media claiming it was immigration concerns that made them do so.

The airline stated that in response to concerns raised by Saipan authorities, they took actions on flights to the Island from February 2019, which was to make sure the U.S. immigration legislation was not being undermined.

They also added they have immediately suspended the practice as they review it.

The Island is also popular with Chinese citizens as it does not need them to get a visa. 

In 2013, the Chinese travel agencies began cracking down on the pregnant women that were trying to visit the islands.

Pregnant women may not be banned from entering the U.S. territory of Saipan. However, the immigration authorities may deny tourists entry if they seem to be visiting the Island to give birth there.

Kevin Bautista, the Saipan governor’s office, expressed his worry concerning the health of mothers that often came late during their pregnancy terms and without medical records of the previous care they got.

From October, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection shortened the visa-free tourist period from 45 days to 14 days. 

The tourists are also meant to have a round trip ticket upon visiting the Island.

Saipan has been trying to reduce the spike in visitor births while having a visa waiver program active for Chinese travelers.