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New Health Insurance Requirements for Immigrant Visa Applicants

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On October 4, 2019, President Trump issued a “Presidential Proclamation on Health Care,” declaring that all people applying for immigrant visas to the United States (processed at U.S. consulates abroad) must demonstrate that they either will be covered by approved health insurance within 30 days of entry or have the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs. The failure to demonstrate this requirement will result in the denial of the immigrant visa application.

This new policy is set to take effect on Sunday, November 3, 2019.

The U.S. State Department has provided some limited guidance on what it considers as qualifying health insurance to cover medical costs. This includes:
- Employer sponsored health plans, including retiree plans;
- Unsubsidized health plans offered through individual States’ Healthcare Marketplace;
- Short-term, limited duration health plans effective for a minimum of 364 days;
- Catastrophic plans;
- Coverage by a family member’s health plan;
- U.S. military health pans, including TRICARE;
- Visitor health insurance plans with adequate medical coverage for a minimum of 364 days;
- Medical plans under Medicare program;
- Any other health plan with adequate coverage as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Applicants for immigrant visas, including diversity visas, should be prepared to present documentation related to health insurance plan or financial ability to cover healthcare costs to the Consular Official reviewing their immigrant visa application at their consular interview.

Since most health insurance plans in the United States require the person covered to hold a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN), and many immigrant visa applicants do not yet have an SSN, it may be difficult for immigrant visa applicants to show that they currently hold a health insurance plan in the United States.

To date this policy has not taken effect and besides offering this list above, the Department of State has offered little guidance as to what documentation it will consider to meet this new rule. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain precisely which documentation is acceptable. Further, we anticipate that different consulates and embassies around the world might take differing views on the documentation required – what is acceptable in London may not be sufficient in Ciudad Juarez or Nairobi.

However, it is clear that an immigrant visa applicant’s failure to provide evidence of health insurance or the ability to cover foreseeable medical costs could result in a denial of the immigrant visa altogether.

Immigrant visa applicants should consider providing some or all of the following documentation at their visa interviews in order to establish their ability to obtain health insurance within 30 days and/or cover foreseeable medical costs in the United States:

- Visitor Health insurance plan, valid for at least 364 days from immigrant visa interview;
- If spouse is U.S. citizen or resident and holds health insurance, evidence of ability to add immigrant visa applicant as spouse once SSN is issued, with evidence of ability to pay additional costs associated with policy;
- If applicant is / will be employed by U.S. employer, evidence of health insurance plans offered by U.S. employer to employees;
- Print-out from individual State Health Insurance Marketplace identifying specific health insurance policy for which the applicant will apply once SSN is issued and quote for costs for the same, plus evidence of ability to pay for the health insurance premiums;
- Letter from current physician confirming current physical health status – no current health conditions requiring treatment, no medications, etc. plus;
         o Evidence of substantial savings as demonstrated by savings/checking bank statements; and/or
        o Evidence of health insurance or health coverage in home country with evidence of funds to cover travel.

Over the coming months, we will monitor various processing of immigrant visa cases and evidence of applicants’ health insurance policies, and will provide updated guidance as available.

For more information on immigrant visa processing, the Presidential Proclamation on Health Care and other immigration matters, please contact Kolko & Casey, P.C.

 

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.