The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Removes HIV Ban and Issues New Vaccination Criteria for U.S. Immigration

CDC Says HIV Infection is No Longer a Communicable Disease

Foreign nationals who are determined to have a “communicable disease of public health significance” are inadmissible to the United States, according to U.S. federal regulation. Those applying for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status or for an immigrant visa abroad must receive a medical examination to demonstrate they are not inadmissible on public health grounds. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the list of communicable diseases of public health significance, which can change when a new disease emerges or when more is known about a disease that is already on the list. Such communicable diseases are those that can be spread easily between persons.

On January 4, 2010, HIV infection was removed from the CDC’s list of communicable diseases. Prior to this final rule, non-U.S. citizens with HIV were inadmissible to the United States. Immigrants, refugees, asylees and parolees were denied entry to the United States based on their HIV status, unless they obtained an HIV waiver. Now that the new rule is in effect, HIV testing is no longer a part of the immigration-related medical exam.

According to the CDC, non-U.S. citizens who have a disease that falls into any of the three following categories are inadmissible:

1. Listed diseases: active tuberculosis, infectious syphilis, gonorrhea, infectious leprosy, chancroid, lymphogranuloma venereum, and granuloma inguinale. (HIV infection was removed on January 4, 2010.)

2. Quarantinable diseases designated by any Presidential Executive Order. The current list of diseases includes cholera, diptheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, viral hemorrahagic fevers, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and influenza caused by novel or re-emergent influenza (pandemic flu).

3. Diseases reportable as public health emergency of international concern to the World Health Organization under the International Health Regulations of 2005.

HIV infection was added to the list of communicable diseases of public health significance in 1987 when little was known about it. At the time, it was not known whether a handshake or a hug would spread the disease. However, after years of research, it is now widely known and accepted that HIV is mainly spread through unprotected sexual interaction with an infected party or through sharing needles with an infected person. The CDC issued the final rule because it determined that HIV is not spread to the U.S. population through casual contact and therefore does not belong on the list. This means non-U.S. citizens with HIV infection no longer require a waiver to enter the United States or adjust to lawful permanent resident status.

CDC Issues New Vaccination Criteria for U.S. Immigration

As of December 14, 2009, the CDC’s new vaccination criteria for U.S. immigration became effective. The CDC will use these criteria at regular periods (as needed) to decide which vaccines must be part of the immigration-related medical exam. Those applying for lawful permanent resident status or for immigrant visas to enter the United States will be affected by these changes.

The new vaccination criteria are:

1. The vaccine must be age-appropriate for the immigrant applicant.
2. The vaccine must protect against a disease that has the potential to cause an outbreak.
3. The vaccine must protect against a disease that has been eliminated or is in the process of being eliminated in the United States.

Currently, applicants for U.S. immigration must be vaccinated against the following illnesses:

1. Mumps
2. Measles
3. Rubella
4. Polio
5. Tetanus and diptheria
6. Pertussis
7. Haemophilus Influenza type B (HiB)
8. Hepatitis A
9. Hepatitis B
11.Meningococcal disease
13.Pneumococcal disease
14.Seasonal influenza

With the new criteria, vaccinations for Human Papillomavirus and Zoster are no longer required. All applications that were pending before December 14, 2009, however, are subject to the old vaccination requirements. While these changes may seem minor, would-be immigrants must comply with all vaccination requirements.

Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for an individual case or situation. The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult an attorney experienced in immigration law.


About Igbanugo Partners International Law Firm

Igbanugo Partners Int'l Law Firm is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It focuses on (1) U.S. immigration law and (2) international trade law in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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