Trump changes immigration rules again: health insurance now mandatory

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On Oct. 4, US President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation stating that visas will be denied to immigrants who do not have health insurance or the financial means to afford their own health.

Under the new rule, the foreign applicant must certify that they are covered by an “approved health insurance” such as a family or business plan, or “any other health plan that provides adequate medical care coverage” or prove that they have the financial resources to meet “reasonably foreseeable” medical costs.

The president said, in an official statement on the White House website, that US subsidized health care costs have exceeded $ 35 billion over the past 10 years. According to him, these costs amount to approximately $ 7 million on average per hospital and could lead to bankruptcy.

Pedro Drummond, a lawyer specializing in US immigration and a partner with Drummond Advisors, points out that “the rule seeks to protect the American health system by avoiding the burden of people unable to afford their own health.”

The new rule takes effect on November 3, 2019 and only affects people whose immigration proceedings are pending on or after this date. Donald Trump’s current proclamation still awaits instructions from the State Department to be implemented in consular posts. So far, it is known that the applicant’s health insurance assessment will be conducted at the time of the interview and, if not approved, they will have up to 30 days to contract a valid US health insurance, with penalty of suspension and limitation of entry into the country.

According to Louanni Cesario, senior lawyer at Drummond Advisors specializing in US immigration, the main impact of this standard will be on the family-based immigration category because, in such cases, the husband, son or father of a US citizen has the right to apply for the green card, but their professional qualification or job offer is not relevant to the request.

Who will it affect

Donald Trump’s proclamation, released on the White House’s official website, makes it clear that the requirements apply only for those intending to immigrate to the United States. Therefore, it applies to the following categories of green card applicants: EB1, EB2, EB5, family-based green cards (parents, siblings, spouses), among others.

Who will not be affected

The new rule does not affect foreigners entering the United States temporarily, whether for temporary work or leisure, such as business visitors (B-1), tourists (B-2) and E-1, E-2, H -3, J-1, F, M, H1-B, L, B-1, O, etc. visa holders.

It’s important to know that the rule also doesn’t apply to refugees, asylum seekers, children of US citizens abroad or trying to enter the US on IR-2, IR-3, IR-4, IH-3, IH-4 or SB-1 visas, people who already have an immigrant visa and holders of special visas issued to citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan who worked with the US government in their countries (SQ).

Louanni further clarifies that “so far, status adjustment within the country is beyond the scope of the proclamation, so it is advisable to make the status adjustment rather than applying for an immigrant visa.”

Trump’s proclamation comes as the government is preparing to implement a new public charge rule on October 15, which seeks to deny US residency and citizenship applications to poor immigrants who could become “public burdens”.

Pedro Drummond shared a tip with anyone who wants to immigrate to the US but is afraid of all the new anti-immigration policies: “Go for professional qualification. There are new barriers to entry into the United States, and the current government’s intention is to increasingly restrict illegal immigration and low-skilled immigration.”

UPDATE: Last Saturday, November 2, US District Judge Michael Simon in Portland, Oregon, issued a Temporary Restriction Order (TRO) that prevented the federal government from implementing this policy (which would take effect on November 3) stating that the new requirements could greatly reduce or extinguish family-based immigration.

Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), argued that “This proclamation would permanently separate families and damage employers; it is a clear violation of the constitution. The president simply does not have the authority to rewrite the law by proclamation.” AILA further adds that “This is not the end of the process as the court considers the full merits of the case, Doe v. Trump, in the coming days and weeks.”