Health Insurance Requirements May Stymie Family-Based Migration


On October 4, 2019, the Trump administration enacted a policy requiring all prospective immigrants to prove they’ll have U.S.-based health insurance within 30 days of arrival, or will have enough money to pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” 

On November 3rd, that bill will go into effect.

The bill, aimed squarely at family-based migrants, could stop 375,000 people from entering the country. 

What are the requirements of the bill?

The bill will require visa applicants to identify a specific health insurance plan that they have purchased, and the date coverage begins. Consular officers may also ask for additional information.

Reasonably foreseeable” has not, to date, been defined.

The health plan may not be subsidized, and if you have a temporary health plan it must last for 364 days. Under the new rules, Medicaid is also ineligible. An employer-based health plan does count, which may allow some family members to gain insurance through loved ones who are already in the United States legally.

Finding an insurer who will help is difficult. Many won’t insure someone who doesn’t have a social security number. Costs are exorbitant, and the system is difficult to navigate.

Are there exceptions to the bill?

The bill doesn’t cover certain immigration classes. These are:

  • Asylum seekers.
  • Refugees.
  • Unaccompanied children.
  • Children of US citizens.
  • Temporary visa holders.
  • H-1B visa holders.
  • Student visa holders.
  • Holders of visitor and tourist visas.

If you have a visa that was issued prior to November 3rd you won’t have to meet these requirements, but you may have to keep them in mind when your visa is up for renewal.

How should you respond to the policy?

If you are trying to join family members in the United States you may wish to reschedule your visa interview. This may buy you some time, either for clarifications to the monetary requirement, or for legal challenges to get through the courts. 

The policy is already facing challenges in the courts and pushback from advocacy groups. Seven U.S. citizens and a non-profit organization have already filed suit in the United States District Court, District of Oregon. 

This may also buy you time to find suitable health insurance which meets the requirements, which may be possible with a little bit of digging. 

Finally, this may allow you to work with your attorney to see if you can accomplish immigration through a different status, one that remains unburdened by this health insurance issue. 

See also:

Three Legal Wins for Immigration

In the News: Alarming Changes to Medical Deferred Action Program

What Happens When You Lose Your Job on an H1-B Visa?


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