President Bush has issued an executive order to the Secretary of State that may make it easier for people from another country who are HIV-positive to visit the United States. Although Bush’s order does not rescind the ban on entry for visitors who are HIV-positive that has been in place since 1993, it does initiate a rule-making process that could create a categorical waiver for business or tourist visas for up to 60 days. The United States is one of approximately 15 countries that places a travel ban on visitors who are HIV-positive.
Under current regulations, travelers can apply to a U.S. Embassy for a short-term waiver for up to either 10 days or 30 days to attend conferences, conduct business, receive medical treatment or visit family members. The Department of State also has the authority to issue “blanket waivers” for travelers who are HIV-positive to attend certain U.S. conferences or international sporting events.
President Bush’s order has received praise from some in the HIV/AIDS community as an initial step in removing all restrictions on immigrants who are HIV-positive, although others have criticized him for not eliminating the ban entirely. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) plans to introduce legislation in the 110th Congress to overturn the ban.
Source: SIECUS, December 2006 Policy Update