Blow to Africans as Trump issues proclamation to deny visas to all immigrants who can’t pay for health care Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 4, 2021

Africans wanting to travel to the United States would now find it very difficult to secure American visas after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Friday that will bar immigrant visa applicants from entering the United States unless they can prove they will have health insurance or the means to pay for medical care in U.S. dollars.

“Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs,” Trump said in his proclamation meant to take effect on November 3, 2019.

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Visa applicants will have to prove to consular officials that they will be covered by an approved health insurance within 30 days of entry into the US or possess the financial means to “pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”

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“The new requirement could make it more difficult for people — particularly ones without financial means — to immigrate to the US,” CNN said.

Under the White House’s proclamation, accepted health insurance includes employer-sponsored and family coverage plans, unsubsidized individual health plans, and short-term plans.

Medicaid or Affordable Care Act subsidies do not qualify as “approved health insurance” under the proclamation.

According to CNN, exceptions to the rule include children of US citizens, unaccompanied minors, permanent residents who are returning to the US after being overseas less than a year, and “special immigrant visas” for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who worked for the US government, and their families.

Immigrants with a valid visa issued before the proclamation’s effective date are also exempt, and the proclamation does not affect refugees and asylum seekers, the report added.

CNN quoted Doug Rand, a former Obama official who worked on immigration policy, as saying on Saturday that the policy would apply to some half a million people seeking green cards from abroad — most of whom will be the parents and spouses of US citizens.

CNN quoted Rand as explaining that the proclamation sidesteps Congress, along with the normal executive branch regulatory process, and does not provide an opportunity for public comment.

He described it as a “hastily written” directive from the White House, noting that the standards in the order are not “defined clearly.”

“What does foreseeable medical expenses mean? How much money is that? How do you prove that you’re going to get health insurance in the future? It’s silent on all these things. There’s no particular form that has been put out there for people to fill out,” said Rand, who is now the co-founder of Boundless Immigration, a company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship.

“Friday’s proclamation falls in line with the administration’s attempts to restrict legal immigration and reshape the legal immigrant population in the US. It’s likely to face court challenges from immigrant rights advocates, who are already decrying the proclamation, CNN said.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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