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Visa applicants required to prove health insurance coverage

Rising health care costs are troubling many people seeking visas to the United States, especially after President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring visa applicants to show that they have health insurance or the means to cover costs. The proclamation would ban immigrant applicants from entering the country if they cannot show that their health care costs will be covered. In order to receive a visa, they will need to show that they will have approved coverage or be able to manage the costs on their own, a challenging burden given the expense of American health care in Indiana and across the country.

The order is expected to take effect on Nov. 3, and it could make it more difficult for people with lower financial means to immigrate to the country. Under the proclamation, employer and family coverage plans, individual health plans and short-term health insurance plans are included. However, Medicaid or Affordable Care Act subsidized plans are excluded from being considered approved health insurance under the policy. The order does not apply to all immigrants; the children of U.S. citizens, unaccompanied minors and green card holders coming back to the country are excluded from the rule. In addition, Iraqi and Afghan nationals receiving special visas after working for the U.S. military are exempt from the obligation.

If immigrants already have a valid visa before the proclamation takes effect, they will not be affected. In addition, because refugees and asylum seekers are part of a different stream of applicants, the regulation does not apply to them.

Estimates indicate that around 500,000 people each year might be affected, especially those seeking permanent residence in the U.S. from abroad such as parents and spouses of citizens. Family members concerned about their loved ones' visa applications may contact an immigration law attorney for advice about next steps.

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