The Reagan administration announced yesterday that as of Dec. 1 it will require all persons seeking immigrant visas to the United States and all undocumented aliens seeking legalized status to undergo testing for the AIDS virus.

Those who test positive will be denied visas for entry into this country or legal status under the amnesty provisions of the new immigration law.

In final rules printed in the Federal Register yesterday, the Public Health Service said that a positive test for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) -- which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome -- would be added on Monday to the list of eight "dangerous and infectious diseases" that constitute medical grounds for denial of a visa. Other diseases on the list include infectious leprosy, tuberculosis, syphilis and gonorrhea. The new rules state that "any person infected with HIV is assumed to be capable of transmitting the virus."

The new requirement has been criticized by public health officials who said foreign countries do not have the facilities for sophisticated testing and by groups representing illegal aliens who say it will further bog down the effort to register undocumented immigrants.

The change is expected to affect about 600,000 persons who enter the United States each year on immigrant visas and another 60,000 who enter as refugees, according to Vern Jervis, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Both groups will have to be tested before they come to the United States.

Foreigners who come here on nonimmigrant visas, including tourists, students and business travelers, will not have to take an AIDS test.

Between 2 million and 4 million illegal aliens currently in this country are expected to apply for legalized status under a one-year amnesty program that began last May.

The test will be required for every alien 15 years of age and older, as well as for younger aliens when there is any "indication" they may have been exposed to the disease.

In most cases, an alien with a positive test will be excluded unless he can obtain an individual waiver from the attorney general.

In addition, aliens who have applied for amnesty -- 560,000 so far -- will be expected to obtain an AIDS test before they can receive permanent legal status, Jervis said. Those applying on or after Dec. 1 will be required to present an AIDS test with their application.

It is not clear what INS will do with illegal aliens who test positive. Under the law, information obtained through the legalization process is confidential and cannot be used to deport an ineligible alien. But those who do not qualify for amnesty will be denied work permits and will find it increasingly difficult to find work as penalties are phased in for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.

The new testing requirement was proposed May 31 by President Reagan in a speech in which he called for mandatory AIDS testing of prisoners, immigrants, applicants for marriage licenses and persons seeking treatment for drug abuse or sexually transmitted diseases. On June 2, the Senate voted unanimously to ask for mandatory AIDS testing for immigrants.

In July, AIDS was added to the list of contagious diseases that can be used as a basis for excluding an alien. The final rules, substituting HIV infection for AIDS, will affect more immigrants because persons who have tested positive for the virus often have not yet developed AIDS symptoms.

Jose Delara, head of the Texas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, called the new testing requirement "another form of discrimination against Hispanic aliens . . . . We feel everyone in the United States should be tested, but they shouldn't target one segment of society.

"They're trying to add an extra burden {to keep Hispanic aliens from qualifying for legalization}. Mexico has a very low incidence of AIDS," he said.

Charles Kamasaki of the National Council of La Raza, a group of organizations representing Hispanics, said he fears some qualified illegal aliens may not apply for amnesty because of the cost of the test -- which he estimated at $200 for the three-part series that may be necessary to weed out false positives.

Kamasaki's group also argues that the legalization program, which has gotten off to a slow start, may be further bogged down by long waiting periods at many urban AIDS clinics where anonymous testing is commonly done. It now takes about two weeks to schedule a test at the Whitman-Walker Clinic here, while some clinics in New York have two- to three-month waiting periods.

He said many aliens who come up with an initial positive test would be afraid to return for further testing, even if they're sure the test is wrong. "From a public health standpoint, it's counterproductive," Kamasaki said. "Those with the disease are likely to simply go further underground, avoid the legalization process and continue to spread AIDS."

Public health experts have raised serious questions about the effectiveness and the international implications of the test for overseas immigrants. Many have argued that it may trigger retaliation by other countries, since the United States has most of the reported cases of AIDS, and create a black market in false test certificates.

The new rules acknowledged that many foreign countries now have virtually no facilities for testing for AIDS and that the blood tests will have to be taken to "regional" laboratories. The Public Health Service also added that confidentiality will not be guaranteed in overseas testing because American consular officials will be required to comply with the local disease reporting requirements.

The rules published yesterday also concede there are still serious questions about how the U.S. testing requirement can be carried out for certain refugee groups, particularly Soviet Jews, Vietnamese and Cubans, or in emergency situations. Those cases will be worked out by the attorney general and the secretaries of state and health and human services.Staff writer Zita Arocha contributed to this report.