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US removes HIV status barrier

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM

JAMAICANS APPLYING for a visa to enter the United States are no longer required to carry out a HIV test.

The United States Embassy has said that effective January 4, 2010, HIV testing was no longer a requirement for medical examinations for visa purposes.

Applicants who are HIV positive will no longer need a waiver from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Since 1987, HIV infection has been an inadmissible medical condition for obtaining a visa to travel to the United States. As of January 4 of this year, however, the condition is no longer a disqualification for applicants for non-immigrant and immigrant visas.

Applicants who were previously refused visas only because they were HIV positive may now be eligible. Such applicants may now apply for a non-immigrant visa (usual fees apply) or continue processing on their immigrant visa without regard to the prior ineligibility for HIV.

The US embassy is making it clear, however, that persons who had been denied visas due to HIV infection do not now become automatically eligible. It says at a new interview, a consular officer will determine whether the applicant is qualified under the other requirements of US immigration law.

Communicable disease

The DS-156 non-immigrant visa application, DS-160 online non-immigrant application and DS-230 application for immigrant visa and alien registration forms contain the question: "Have you ever been afflicted with a communicable disease of public health significance or a dangerous physical or mental disorder, or ever been a drug user or addict?" Effective January 4, 2010, HIV-positive visa applicants no longer have to answer 'Yes' to this question because of their HIV status.

Applicants who are HIV-positive, and can otherwise answer 'No' to the question, should now do so.