Applicants for U.S. immigrant visas now need to show that they have purchased private health insurance, can secure such insurance or have the funds to provide health care in case of an emergency within 30 days of their entry to the country. The policy, which covers Florida and the rest of the nation, was issued by executive order on Oct. 4, 2019. There are some exceptions for people on certain types of visas and minor children, but the order is expected to make legal immigration more challenging for many.

The vast majority of uninsured people in the United States are already U.S. citizens, and advocates say there is little to no evidence that uninsured immigrants are imposing a substantial cost burden on the health care system. According to some estimates, hundreds of thousands of green card applications could be blocked every year, depending on how the policy’s provisions are interpreted by immigration officers and consular officials. The order mandates that immigrants must show that they can pay for foreseeable medical costs, but it does not specify the amount of money needed nor which costs are considered reasonably foreseeable.

Others have raised concerns that, especially in conjunction with other changes, the rule seems to target immigrants with lower incomes. Some people from certain countries may be more likely to face scrutiny about their medical coverage. This could depend on who border officials may believe are more likely to incur health care costs.

There are a number of changes that are taking place in U.S. immigration law, and many people involved in the system are concerned about the long-term effects. An immigration attorney may provide advice and help a client protect their rights to remain in the country.