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Public Charge and Health Care

by Ally Bolour | Jul 30, 2020

The fight to block President Trumps’s new requirement that prospective immigrants seeking visas prove they can get or pay for their own health insurance continues. Lawyers for seven people urged a federal judge this past Friday to continue to block this new requirement.

The new requirement is centered upon the admissibility issue of “public charge.” If an intending immigrant – one applying for an immigrant visa – is found to likely become a public charge in the U.S. then that individual will be found inadmissible to the U.S. and his or her immigrant visa will be denied.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit who seek to block this new health care requirement, argue that Congress has already set out a multiple factor criteria to determine if an intending immigrant will become a “public charge.” Those factors include a visa applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, education and skills. In this multiple factor list, nowhere does it mention “health insurance” should be a consideration if the intending immigrant is to become a public charge.

U.S. Department of Justice lawyers cite to the Presidents board authority to regulate the immigration system, as the INA does provide the President with broad authority to deny intending immigrants and non-immigrants whose entry to the U.S. would be detrimental to the U.S. One example of this was the President’s ability to enact the Travel Ban which blocked entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Despite the President’s broad power, it is important to note that, as cited by attorney Stephen Manning of the Innovation Law Lab, “uninsured recent immigrants are responsible for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s total medical costs.” This stat demonstrates whether or not an intending immigrant has health insurance or is able to pay for their own health insurance before issuance of his or her visa, has little to no effect on whether that individual will become a “public charge” in the U.S.

This is an important issue for many families and immigration attorneys so we will continue to keep a close eye on how this plays out. If you have any questions or need representation for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa to the U.S. please do not hesitate to contact our Office.

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