The White House on Friday issued a proclamation that, as of November 3, those applying for visas for the U.S. must be able to prove they have coverage by “approved health insurance” or have the financial means to pay for “reasonable foreseeable medical costs,” reports The New York Times.
The new ruling is set to take effect next month. Trump said he decided to focus on health insurance because legal immigrants are three times as likely to be uninsured than American citizens, citing a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Although the study is focused on undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration apparently seems to think the results can be extrapolated to the situations of documented immigrants.
While the policy is focused on all immigrants applying for a visa, a Trump administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the president was looking to mainly affect immigrants looking to join their families in the U.S. Since his campaign in 2016, Trump has focused on what he calls “chain migration,” where family members sponsor close relatives to get visas to come join them in the U.S. Trump has stated numerous times that this type of migration is the biggest immigration challenge the country currently faces, as reported by ABC News.
This newest attempt at limiting the number of visas given out by the U.S. is a step further than the administration’s previous attempt to prevent immigrants who would need to rely on public benefits from entering the country. The so-called “wealth test” for immigration has faced numerous legal challenges, but so far hasn’t been struck down by a court. Unless a stay is ordered, the policy will go into effect on October 15.
Immigration experts were taken aback by this new policy and have questioned why it is being pushed by the administration, according to The New York Times article. The experts say that most foreign citizens applying for a visa already have to go through stringent background and health checks, including proving they have the financial means to support themselves in the U.S.
As most foreign nationals who are applying for a visa are doing it for employment reasons — thus they would get health care through their employer — people are unsure of the purpose of this new immigration proclamation.
Under this new policy, U.S. embassies and consulates must determine how financially stable a visa applicant is before approving their application. Those looking to enter the U.S. for an extended period of time must prove they have adequate health coverage or financial means within 30 days of their application, or else it will automatically get declined.
Doug Rand, a former White House immigration specialist in the Obama administration, said that if the U.S. officials working overseas aren’t properly trained on this new procedure, it could result in “complete chaos” for the country’s immigration system.
Rand also believes that — like the Muslim and asylum bans the Trump administration attempted to pass previously — this new policy will face several legal obstacles before it goes into effect.