Moving to USA from UK
Mar 4, 2012
Hi - i am wanting to move to USA (New York) to pursue a new career, moving from the UK. I was diagnosed hiv+ in 2008 and am currently on treatment (atripla)
Am i able to apply for green card/citizenship? If so is medication available?
Response from Ms. Douaihy
Thank you for submitting this very important question. I am happy to report that the "HIV ban" on immigration and travel to the US was lifted in 2010. Before the ban was removed, HIV positive status made an applicant "inadmissible" for lawful immigration or travel to the US unless they had a valid "waiver". Critics of the HIV ban fought hard to remove this discriminatory practice of denying applicants simply due to their HIV positive status.
So the answer to your question is that your status alone cannot serve as grounds for immigration or travel visa inadmissibility. However, to attain the right to live and work in the United States you must be eligible for one of the narrow categories of immigration status, a difficult and complicated process in and of itself. It is also important to know, that HIV status still may play a role if you apply for a green card/citizenship. This is because immigration policy disfavors those likely to become a "public charge." According to USCIS, a public charge is "an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense." Government funded Medicaid (other than support for long-term institutional care) does not automatically render one a "public charge". To read more on the factors immigration officials take into consideration in assessing "public charge" determination I direct you to the USCIS website: www.uscis.gov. Regarding your last question, for its green card holders (lawful permanent residents) and citizens, the United States offers government-subsidized health insurance (which cover prescription HIV medication) to certain categories of people like the elderly, low-income and disabled. The US also has "AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs" in all 50 states that offer HIV prescription medication to low-income people with no other access to medications. There are, however, waiting lists for some ADAPs. Good luck as you approach this next chapter!
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