You should first be screened by the panel physician or civil surgeon designated to perform the medical exam to confirm whether the specific vaccine is required for your case. Specific vaccines are listed in the immigration law known as the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act further requires vaccines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control “CDC” and the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices “ACIP.” As a result, it could be that a certain vaccine you are worried about is not on the list of vaccines or you may have already obtained the vaccine in the past and as a result will not be required to receive it.
In general, an individual is required to receive a vaccination if available to prevent the following conditions:
- Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
- Haemophilus influenzae type B
- Hepatitis B
- Any other vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices
It could also very well be that the civil surgeon or panel physician can deem a specific vaccine to be medically inappropriate for an individual because the vaccine is not age-appropriate, the vaccine is contraindicated; there is insufficient time to complete a vaccination series or because it is unavailable.
If it turns out that a vaccine is available and required that you are opposed to taking, then you have to consider the following criteria to be considered for a waiver from receiving a vaccine.
First, you must be opposed to all vaccinations in any form. This means that if you are not opposed to taking any other vaccine except for one specific vaccine, you will be disqualified from seeking such a waiver. You should also note in cases where you are claiming opposition to all vaccines, that the reviewing civil surgeon can hold against you the fact that you may have been vaccinated against other conditions in the past.
Second, your objection must be based on religious beliefs or moral convictions where your beliefs must be sincere.
With respect to both of these factors you have to be essentially prepared to attempt to explain as specifically as possible the beliefs or convictions that mandate against the receiving of a vaccine including explanation on how your beliefs have changed if you have received vaccines in the past.
The more specific and detailed the belief or conviction the better the chance you have in having the waiver granted. This means that a general statement that your religion prohibits you from receiving a vaccine will not be sufficient, but in our experience, the evidence should be focused on making the best case of connecting your connecting your belief to the principal, religious doctrine or scripture followed by your religion or moral principal. The vaguer, the explanation without citation to some authority within your religion or moral principal, the easier it will be for the adjudicator to discredit your claim and deny your waiver.
In most cases, the waiver is requested by filing a waiver after the medical examination by filing the immigration form I-601, paying the required fee and attaching the relevant evidence including your declaration establishing the basis for objecting to the vaccine. If the waiver is approved, then the vaccination requirement is waived, and the immigration adjudicator will proceed to review and decide your case based on the other criteria relevant to your case.
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