Streamlined Process Announced for Otherwise Eligible HIV-Positive Individuals to Enter the United States
Fact Sheet: Streamlined Process Announced for Otherwise Eligible HIV-Positive Individuals to Enter the United States
September 29, 2008 - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
announced today the publication of a final rule that will streamline the issuance of certain short-term non-immigrant visas
to people infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) who are otherwise qualified to enter the United States.
Under this new regulation, Department of State consular officers overseas will now have the
authority to grant temporary, non-immigrant visas to otherwise eligible applicants who are HIV-positive and meet certain requirements.
"This regulation significantly improves the opportunities for individuals seeking to visit the
U.S. who were previously inadmissible because of an HIV infection," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Perhaps most
important to the applicants, we're also accelerating the process by providing an additional avenue for temporary admission, while
maintaining a high level of security at our borders."
The HIV Waiver Final Rule will apply to foreigners who are HIV-positive and seek to enter the United States as
visitors for up to 30 days; these individuals still must meet all of the other normal criteria for the granting of a U.S.
visa. The issuance of visas under the rule will also be subject to certain criteria designed to ensure an HIV-positive
person's activities while in the United States do not present a risk to the public health. Travelers who do not meet
the specific requirements of the rule, or who wish to follow the pre-existing process, may elect to follow the
existing procedure for a case-by-case determination of their eligibility for a visa and admission authorization.
Visas issued under this final rule will not publicly identify any traveler as HIV-positive.
The United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, which President
Bush signed on July 30, 2008, removed a statutory requirement that mandated the inclusion of HIV on a list of diseases of public health
significance that made any person infected with those conditions ineligible from admission to the United States. The legislation did
not automatically change the existing regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that
continue to list HIV as a "communicable disease of public-health significance." HHS is currently beginning the rulemaking
process to remove HIV from this list.
In the meantime, the DHS rule announced today fulfills the President's promise to create a streamlined process for otherwise
eligible HIV-positive individuals to gain temporary admission to the United States. On Dec. 1, 2006, President Bush directed the
Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to initiate a rulemaking that proposed a categorical waiver of inadmissibility for
otherwise eligible foreigners who are HIV-positive, and who seek to enter the United States on short-term visas.
Previously, individuals who are HIV-positive were prohibited from receiving a visa to visit the United States at all without
an individual waiver. As a result, the Department of State had made individual recommendations to DHS on whether or not to grant a waiver.
DHS would then proceed with case-by-case evaluations, and determine whether to authorize issuance of a visa to allow an applicant's
temporary admission. The State Department would occasionally recommend, and DHS approved, group waivers for events at the United
Nations or other international gatherings in the United States.
DHS published a notice of proposed rulemaking on Nov. 6, 2007, and welcomed public comments for 30 days thereafter. This
final rule adopts the proposed amendments to the regulations, and simplifies the process for the authorization of admission, with some
modifications in light of the public comments received. The Final Rule is available
Office of the Press Secretary