Trump proclamation will suspend entry of uninsured immigrants

BY Jason Gerrol

On October 4, 2019, President Trump issued his Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System, which will go into effect November 3, 2019. Under the proclamation, a foreign national applying for an immigrant visa abroad will be required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the adjudicating Department of State (DOS) Officer they will be covered by approved health insurance within 30 days of their entry to the U.S., or that they have sufficient financial resources to pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”

The proclamation does provide a list of plans and programs that qualify as “approved health insurance.” The proclamation does not, however, define what constitutes sufficient financial resources to pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs,” although the “Secretary of State may establish standards and procedures governing such determinations” and related determinations under the proclamation.

The proclamation applies to applicants for an immigrant visa abroad on or after November 3, 2019. It does not apply to non-immigrants (e.g., H-1B, L-1, etc.), current lawful permanent residents, anyone issued a valid immigrant visa prior to November 3, 2019, and several other categories of immigrants outlined in the proclamation. The proclamation also does not affect an individual’s eligibility for asylum or refugee status.

Opponents of the proclamation claim it is yet another unlawful and unjustified attempt by the Trump administration to curtail lawful immigration. The proclamation, however, states the new measures are necessary to protect U.S. taxpayers who “bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare,” who “strain [f]ederal and [s]tate budgets through their reliance on publicly funded programs,” and who use emergency rooms for non-emergency conditions, “causing overcrowding and delays for those who truly need emergency services,” among other claims made in the proclamation. The proclamation follows a controversial August 14, 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “public charge” rule that will significantly increase the number of foreign nationals deemed inadmissible to the U.S.

Legal challenges to the proclamation are likely, and individuals applying for their immigrant visa abroad should consult with immigration counsel regarding the proclamation.

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Jason Gerrol

Of Counsel

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