10 July 2009
America to lift ban and allow HIV foreigners entry with US visas
Last week the US government initiated the final steps required to lift long-standing travel and immigration restrictions imposed on HIV-positive foreigners.
Under the current ban HIV-positive foreigners, even if they are travelling on an ESTA tourist visa or a business visa, cannot enter the US athough in exceptional cases a waiver can be granted.
The policy, which has been in place for more than 15 years, also prevents immigrants to America with HIV from becoming legal permanent residents.
The reason why HIV-positive foreigners are refused entry to the US is because the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) includes HIV as one of the “communicable diseases of public health significance” that bar people from entering the U.S.
But last week the HHS issued proposed regulations that would remove HIV from this communicable diseases list.
Many activists are applauding the move as it begins the legal process to repeal the ban.
The first step to lift the ban was actually taken last July, when President George W. Bush signed a bill into law containing an amendment that would strike down the ban. The prohibition stayed in place because HIV was still on the communicable disease list, allowing the US government to stop those with HIV from entering the country.
Last month, HIV-positive British activist Paul Thorn was denied an American Business Visitor visa when he tried to participate in a conference taking place in Seattle.
While various countries around the world have some travel or immigration restrictions on those with HIV, the U.S. is one of a few countries with such a restrictive policy on simply entering the country with a tourist visa.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.