HIV+ Visa Applicants May Face Longer Wait for U.S. Entry, Due to CDC Tuberculosis Policy

Centers for Disease Control Require Sputum Test of HIV+ Visa Applicants

Many thanks to attorney W. John Vandenberg for bringing to light a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) policy that could delay, if not completely derail, some HIV+ applicant's request for a visa to the United States. As Vandenberg explains in his blog, "HIV+? Wait Here," new tuberculosis screening requirements that were phased in between 2007 and 2014 require that anyone who test positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) undergo not just a regular TB test (a sputum smear), but a more sensitive test known as a sputum culture.

The concern, obviously, is that applicants with compromised immune systems might be more likely to catch and carry tuberculosis and bring it to the U.S. -- and tuberculosis is a ground of inadmissibility. (Inadmissibility means that the person may not receive a U.S. visa or green card even if otherwise qualified for it.)

HIV was, itself, once a ground of inadmissibility. Anyone who wanted to obtain a U.S. green card or visa and who was HIV+ had to first obtain a waiver and prove that he or she did not present a public safety threat. But it was removed from the list of inadmissibility grounds in 2010.

Now, according to Vandenberg, this new CDC policy is resulting in delays of 60 days -- assuming the applicants is ultimately found to be free of TB. If not, the visa or green card may be denied, though a waiver is available. See Nolo's article, "Waivers of Health-Based Inadmissibility for U.S. Green Card Applicants" for more about the criteria for receiving this waiver and the application process for requesting it.