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Court Ruling Mandates Health Insurance for Immigrants

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

In a controversial move, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a presidential proclamation that prevents prospective immigrants from entering the country if they do not have access to health insurance or the financial capability to pay for medical expenses.

In late 2019, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9945 which sought to deny entry to immigrants who could arguably be perceived as financially burdensome to the U.S. healthcare system.

A nationwide preliminary injunction was swiftly issued by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon, who questioned the proclamation's legality, fearing the separation of families.

In December 2020, the Ninth Circuit panel decided, in 2-1 majority, to reverse the injunction on the basis that the President acted within his authority by issuing the proclamation.

Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote the dissent in which he scathingly condemned the President for essentially bypassing Congress and upending the nation's immigration laws.

In his dissent, he referred to the move as "a sweeping and unprecedented exercise of unilateral Executive power."

His opinion continued, "The Proclamation overrides both the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), which makes recently arrived lawful immigrants eligible for subsidized health insurance plans, … and the public charge rule of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), which comprehensively addresses the circumstances under which individuals may be excluded from this country due to their limited financial means or the financial burdens they will place on others."

What Does This Mean For Intending Immigrants?

If you submitted an immigrant visa application on or after November 3, 2019, you must demonstrate to the consular officer during your interview that you will be covered by health insurance within thirty days of your arrival in the U.S. or have the financial means to pay for medical expenses. The Department of State has declared that failure to meet this requirement will result in the visa application's denial.

It is important to note that the healthcare proclamation's injunction will remain in place until the mandate issues (approximately 45 days from December 31, 2020).

Source: American Immigration Lawyers Association

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