USCIS has announced today that starting on October 1, 2021, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require most adjustment of status green card applicants to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. CDC has added the COVID vaccine to the list of vaccinations already required for those seeking permanent residence. For the list of current vaccines needed, please click here. A test for COVID immunity or prior infection has not been added to the examination.
When applying for a green card, the applicant must demonstrate that they are not inadmissible based on health-related grounds. To prove this, the applicant must submit a completed medical examination form to USCIS. For more information about the medical exam for green card applicants, please click here.
When the new requirement takes effect, green card applicants attending their medical examination will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with a vaccine authorized for use in the United States or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. Self-reports of vaccination will not be accepted without written documentation.
A few types of applicants fall under the vaccine wavier categories. These types of applicants will not be required to provide evidence of vaccination:
- Applicants who are younger than the lowest age limit for available vaccinations in their jurisdiction.
- Those who can document a medical contraindication. For more information on this, please check the CDC website here.
- If the COVID vaccine is not routinely available in the jurisdiction of the civil surgeon, the applicant may be permitted a waiver
- Religious or moral convictions: If the vaccination is against the applicant’s religious or moral convictions, the applicant can submit a waiver to USCIS. USCIS will determine whether to grant the waiver on a case by case bases. The civil surgeon cannot make this determination
So far, this new rule only applies to those applying for adjustment of status in the US. It has not been extended to those applying for immigrant visas abroad. However, visa applicants must be tested for infection if they report symptoms at the time of the visa interview. Starting on October 1, green card applicants attending their medical exam should bring evidence of COVID vaccination unless clearly exempt under one of the waiver categories. Those who fail to do so will likely experience delays in their application.
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