If you are HIV-positive and want to enter the United States on a short-term visa, make sure to plan your trip far in advance. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed additional rules that force those living with HIV to overcome serious obstacles before visiting the U.S. — which include unfair restrictions on them once they’re here. Lambda Legal opposes these discriminatory and misguided regulations.
Based on outdated ideas regarding HIV/AIDS treatment and transmission, there is currently a ban on admission into the U.S. of people living with HIV. Some travelers are able to qualify for a waiver of the bar against admission, but that is a difficult and lengthy process. Last year, President Bush called for new rules that would make it possible for more people to get a waiver. But instead DHS has proposed an extremely burdensome process that would require an individualized, detailed, case-by-case assessment of every applicant’s medical condition, treatment regimen, HIV counseling and financial assets before allowing entry.
The suggested regulations continue the stigmatizing discrimination against people living with HIV, create greater barriers to their entry into the U.S. and significantly curtail their legal rights once here. In fact, the proposed application would force applicants to waive all rights to change their visa status once in the U.S. — which would prevent them from requesting to stay longer, applying for a work visa while in the U.S., or obtaining U.S. citizenship down the road if they qualify for political asylum.
The U.S. is only one of 13 countries, including Sudan, Saudi Arabia and China, that bars people with HIV from entering the country. Lambda Legal has urged DHS not to adopt the proposed regulations and, instead, to revise them significantly to allow more people living with HIV to visit the United States — and to do so without waiving important rights.