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Travel ban information
Aug 5, 2009

Hi Dr. Bob,

I have some information which I hope will be helpful to one of your readers who wrote asking when the end of the travel ban will finally arrive.

I happen to be a lawyer, and am married to an HIV-positive woman. I was able to obtain an immigration visa for my wife (then my fiancée) around the beginning of this year in spite of her HIV status. We applied for a waiver which was granted.

Here's my advice for people interested in this subject: the process of *officially* removing the travel ban may take some time still. We have no way to predict how long. HOWEVER, sometimes a federal agency such as USCIS (U.S. Immigration) will know that a rule change is coming, and they will "informally" adopt the new rule even before it's officially in effect.

What that could mean, in this case, is that the government knows the travel (and immigration) ban will soon end, and may therefore be much more likely to grant waivers to people who apply for one. It may become very easy to get travel waivers shortly, even before the new rule is officially in place, because everybody (including the government) knows that it's inevitable that the ban will officially disappear soon.

There have been other cases in the past where similar things have occurred -- not examples specifically relating to HIV or any health condition necessarily, but other times where federal agencies have "silently" adopted a new rule even before it is officially in place.

Therefore . . . I recommend that anybody who wishes to come here and is otherwise eligible should go ahead and try. I think there's a reasonably good chance that such a request would be granted.

I hope this is helpful.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Thanks for your input. For vacationing visitors to the U.S. it's my understanding that immigration officials are not specifically searching out HIVers at this time. (Hopefully they should be focusing on terrorists and other bad guys rather than someone with a viral illness!) The visa-waiver process can, at times, be a lengthy and frustrating ordeal. If someone is planning an extended stay here, certainly that's the way to go. If, on the other hand, someone is just planning a quick vacation here to catch some Broadway shows or Las Vegas nightlife, they could just pack their HIV medications in their suitcase and not declare anything at immigration. Many foreign HIVers have been vacationing here without incident for quite some time. I will admit it is against the current rules and there could be consequences if someone were to be caught. However, as you mention everyone knows the travel ban is on its way out. Consequently the risk is probably significantly reduced compared to the bad old days!

Dr. Bob



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