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President Trump Introduces Health Insurance Requirement for Immigrant Visa Applicants

According to a proclamation issued by President Donald Trump on October 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of State will begin issuing immigrant visas only to those foreign nationals who will have health insurance once admitted to the United States, or who can prove that they have the financial means to cover their own medical expenses.

Details about this new requirement are limited. The following is a summary of what we know so far:

When does the change go into effect?

The new requirement is scheduled to go into effect on November 3, 2019.

Who is affected?

The new health insurance requirement applies to foreign nationals who apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate. The requirement does not apply to, among others:

  • foreign nationals with a valid immigrant visa issued before November 3, 2019;

  • foreign nationals applying for adjustment of status in the United States;

  • children of U.S. citizens;

  • nonimmigrant visa applicants (H-1B, L-1, etc.); and

  • asylum seekers or refugees.

What is changing?

Before a consular officer can adjudicate or issue an immigrant visa, the foreign national applicant must establish that he or she “will be covered by approved health insurance” within 30 days of admission into the United States, or demonstrate that he or she has “financial resources” to pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”

Approved health insurance coverage includes (but is not limited to):

  • employer-sponsored plans;

  • unsubsidized health plans (subsidized plans under the Affordable Care Act do not qualify);

  • Medicare;

  • short-term, limited-duration health policies;

  • visitor health insurance plans;

  • catastrophic plans;

  • family members’ plans; and

  • other plans deemed adequate by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

What does all this mean in practice?

According to the proclamation, the State Department may establish standards and procedures for determining who meets the health insurance requirement. Until that happens, it is unclear what proof of health insurance immigrant visa applicants will be required to produce or what kind of training consular officers will receive to guide their determinations.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 287


About this Author

Melissa Manna, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Raleigh, Immigration Practice Group Writer
Immigration Practice Group Writer

Melissa Manna is an Immigration Practice Group Writer. Her primary focus is writing and editing legal articles relating to immigration for the firm’s online and print publications, websites, and newsletters.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Melissa spent 9 years as in-house counsel at TowerCo, one of the largest independent wireless tower companies in the U.S., representing the company in all aspects of commercial real estate. During that time she managed due diligence, advised and implemented risk management solutions, and closed transactions...

Vanessa Olivar Immigration Attorney Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Immigration Attorney

Vanessa’s practice includes a full range of business immigration matters in a variety of industries, including information technology, biotechnology, life sciences, manufacturing, and health care.  She assists multinational corporations of all sizes in obtaining temporary and permanent work visas on behalf of new and current employees.  Vanessa expertise includes the preparation of specialty occupation visas (H-1B, H-1BI and E-3), intracompany transfers (L-1), extraordinary ability workers (O-1), and NAFTA professionals (TN), as well as a variety of other temporary employment visa classifications.  Vanessa also works closely with clients to navigate the green card process including PERM, multinational executives and managers, extraordinary ability workers, and outstanding researchers, among others.  She also has worked closely with companies to establish immigration policies and programs and assists with I-9 compliance issues.