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Change Coming to HIV Immigration Ban

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The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service has issued a memo directing its officers to put a hold on any decisions on green card applications that are based solely on HIV status, pending a rule change to eliminate the HIV restriction that Health and Human Services is scheduled to issue later this year.

Under current regulations, non-U.S. citizens who are HIV-positive cannot travel to the United States unless they are granted a waiver, and immigrants are denied entry to the United States if they are HIV-positive. The CIS memo's intent is to halt any green card denials that are based on HIV status in anticipation that the policy change proposed earlier this year by HHS will soon be ushered through to completion.

"It's very good news for people who have pending green card applications," said Steve Ralls, communications director at Immigration Equality, a group that advocates to equalize immigration policy for LGBT people. "It's a strong indication that U.S. CIS expects this to move forward soon and it's a very good indicator that the administration is moving forward on repeal."

Congress originally passed the policy reversal last summer, but the Bush administration was unable to implement the shift before leaving office. HHS put the wheels of change in motion in late June by publishing the proposed regulation, and the 45-day public comment period on the proposal has already expired.

"HHS is reviewing those comments and the Administration has said that they expect the entire repeal process to be completed by the end of the calendar year," Ralls said. "This memo indicates that they're approaching the finish line in that process."

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