On October 4, 2019, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation that was scheduled to go into effect on November 3. The proclamation was intended to restrict foreign nationals who lacked health insurance or resources to pay for health care from immigrating to the United States. On November 2, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon in Portland, Oregon, issued a temporary restraining order preventing the presidential proclamation from going into effect.
Not to be confused with the recently-enacted “public charge rule,” the proclamation regarding health insurance focused on preventing certain foreign nationals from immigrating to the United States unless they could prove that they would have either suitable health insurance coverage or the funds to pay for “reasonably foreseeable” medical expenses. This amounts to a financial burden that many immigrants are unable to meet, in effect creating a “wealth test” for immigration.
Although the proclamation has been blocked, that measure is only temporary, and many immigrants and their families are justifiably worried that the proclamation will prevent them or their loved ones from coming to the United States, or being permitted to stay. It is worth understanding who could be affected by the proclamation, and what it requires.
The presidential proclamation would primarily prevent individuals abroad who were seeking family-based immigrant visas from entering the United States, if those people could not show that they would be covered by certain insurance within 30 days of entering the country, or that they could pay for their likely medical expenses. Affected people would include spouses of United States citizens and spouses of lawful permanent residents (green card holders). Also affected would be children of green card holders who are between the ages of 18 and 21; children under the age of 18 if they were traveling with a parent who was also immigrating; and adult children (over age 21) of green card holders and U.S. citizens. Parents of U.S. citizens who cannot make the necessary showing that their health care will not place a “substantial burden” on the U.S. healthcare system are also affected.
In addition to immigrants in the categories above, individuals with diversity visas, employment-based immigrant visas, and certain religious workers would be required to have suitable insurance or financial resources.
There are some categories of people who would be exempt from the proclamation. These include people who were issued a visa prior to the date the proclamation was to become effective (November 3, 2019). Also exempt are unmarried children of U.S. citizens, including adoptees. Children under the age of 18 would be exempt, unless they were traveling with parents who are subject to the proclamation. Parents of U.S. citizens would be exempt if they can prove that their health care would not be an unreasonable burden on the U.S. government. Foreign nationals whose presence in the United States would assist law enforcement or otherwise be in the national interest would also be exempt from the proclamation.
Just what qualifies as “approved health insurance” under the proclamation? The following types of insurance:
While this list includes many types of health insurance programs, one type of insurance is not included as approved: Medicaid for individuals aged 18 and older. . (Medicaid is an approved health insurance for children under 18.) Subsidized health care plans under the Affordable Care Act are not acceptable for adults or children under the presidential proclamation.
Remember that as of right now, this proclamation has not taken effect, and if the courts continue to block it, it may not take effect. If, however, you or a loved one would be subject to the proclamation, you may want to consult an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your options in the event the temporary block on the presidential proclamation is removed, and the restrictions take effect.