U.S. Immigration Officials Announce New Rules To Ease Visa Processing for HIV-Positive Visitors
U.S. immigration officials on Monday announced new rules to ease and expedite visa processing for HIV-positive visitors, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. A law that made foreigners living with HIV/AIDS inadmissible in the U.S. was repealed when President Bush signed legislation reauthorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in July (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/29). HHS in 1987 placed HIV on a list of diseases barring entry into the U.S. Although that prohibition is separate from the congressionally imposed travel restrictions eased in the PEPFAR bill, federal health officials no longer were bound by law to keep HIV on the list with the signing of the PEPFAR bill (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/31). HHS currently is in the process of removing HIV from the list (DHS fact sheet, 9/29).
Under the new rules announced on Monday, HIV-positive applicants who meet "all other normal criteria for the granting of a U.S. visa" will have the opportunity to receive a temporary, non-immigrant visa from U.S. consular offices overseas, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. Under previous regulations, HIV-positive people were barred from entering the U.S. unless they received a special waiver, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. In the statement, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that new visas under the new regulations will be "subject to criteria designed to ensure an HIV-positive person's activities while in the United States do not present a risk to the public health." He also noted that the department will be "accelerating the process by providing an additional avenue for temporary admission while maintaining a high level of security at our borders" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/29).