A significant new policy change affecting green card applicants is set to take effect on Sunday, November 3rd.
Starting on November 3rd, applicants applying for green cards from outside the United States will need to prove to consular officers that they will have unsubsidized health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the US, or will have enough money to pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs” once in the country.
The new rules applies to people applying for immigrant visas from outside the country - it does not apply to those applying for green cards and are already living in the United States.
Parents of adult US citizens are exempt from the rule, but will need to prove to a consular officer that they will not become “a substantial burden” on the US healthcare system.
The following classes of immigrants are also exempt from the health insurance rule:
- Anyone with an immigrant visa issued before the effective date of the proclamation (Nov. 3, 2019)
- Green card holders seeking reentry under SB-1 (“returning resident”) visas
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Iraqi or Afghan nationals entering using Special Immigrant visas
- Unmarried children (under the age of 21) of U.S. citizens
- Orphans or other children being adopted by U.S. citizens
- Immigrants admitted in the national interest, or to further law enforcement goals
The Trump administration, in the proclamation, said the following health insurance plans meet the new requirement:
- Employer-sponsored plans, including retiree plans, association health plans, and coverage under COBRA
- Any unsubsidized health plan bought through an Obamacare marketplace
- Short-term insurance covering at least 364 days, or until the start of a planned period of travel outside the United States
- Catastrophic plans
- Coverage under a family member’s health insurance
- Certain military health insurance programs, including TRICARE
- Medicare plans
- Other plans approved by the Department of Health and Human Services
The Migration Policy Institute says the policy change could lead to 375,000 people having their green card application rejected.
Immigration advocates say the policy change is aimed at limiting family-based migration, which President Trump has repeatedly called chain migration and vowed to end.
In unveiling the proclamation, the Trump administration said uninsured immigrants fall back on taxpayer-funded health care, driving up costs for Americans by $35 billion each year. Immigration advocates and healthcare experts have disputed this figure.