HIV-Affected Green Cards Held in Preparation for Final Rule

An encouraging report from the Immigration Equality Blog this morning:

[U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)] has just issued a memo directing its officers who decide “green card” applications to hold applications in abeyance pending the final HHS rule. In other words, if someone has submitted a green card application and USCIS would deny it based solely on the fact that the applicant is HIV-positive, it will hold off on a decision.

For individuals who are eligible for waivers, USCIS will continue to adjudicate waivers and approve them where the standard is met. If USCIS finds that the applicant does not qualify for the waiver, it will hold the denial in abeyance — that is neither grant nor deny the application, pending the publication of the regulations.

Immigration Equality worked with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to press USCIS to release a memo on this issue and we’re very happy to see another step forward towards fairness under the immigration law for people with HIV.

This is great news for anyone who has filed for a green card hoping that the ban will be fully lifted before USCIS makes a decision on his or her application.

Here’s a pdf of the three page USCIS memo.

In 1987, a law was passed requiring the denial of immigration and even travel visas based on an applicant’s positive HIV status. President Bush signed a bill in 2008 reversing that law, but the Department of Health and Human Services has not yet removed HIV from its list of banned communicable diseases. HHS officials have indicated that removal may happen in the very near future.