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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

The ABCs of Immigration - Inadmissibility - Waivers for Health Grounds
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

Beginning in 1957, responding to hardships caused by inadmissibility based on a diagnosis of tuberculosis, Congress began creating waivers of inadmissibility. In 1963 the waivers became a permanent part of immigration law. Today, waivers are available for most of the health related grounds of inadmissibility, but not for drug abuse and addiction.

The waiver for communicable diseases is available to spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters of citizens and permanent residents. The waiver for vaccinations is available in one of two ways. First, a physician can make the determination that the vaccine is medically contraindicated. The second way is based on religious beliefs or moral convictions that forbid the immigrant from obtaining the vaccination. Waiver of the physical and mental disorder is also available.

If the waiver is required because of tuberculosis, the following requirements must be satisfied. First, the immigrant must agree that upon admission to the US they will immediately see a doctor to whom they will present medical records relating to their diagnosis. The sponsor of the immigrant must present evidence that arrangements have been made for the immigrantís medical care once in the US.

Waivers are available for people who test positive for the HIV virus and for AIDS. To obtain the waiver, the immigrant must show a number of things. First, they must demonstrate that their admission would not be a risk to US public health. Second, they msut show that there is not much likelihood they will spread the condition. Third, they must show that their condition will not impose any costs on any government agency without the agencyís prior consent. Generally, the immigrant will have to show that they have arranged for medical treatment in the US, that they are aware of the seriousness of their condition and how it is spread, and a notice of formal consent from a government agency that it will be responsible for treatment.

Waivers of the physical or mental disorder ground of inadmissibility are available, but require substantial documentation. First, the immigrant must submit a medical report containing their complete medical history, including details about any hospitalizations. The report should also include an examination by a psychiatrist. If the immigrant has a history of mental illness, the report should include information that would support a finding that the immigrant has recovered. Once the report is found acceptable, the immigrant must submit a statement from a hospital or physician that it will examine the immigrant upon their arrival in the US.


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defenderís office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com



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