Starting October 1, 2021, green card applicants will be required to obtain full COVID-19 vaccination in order to clear their immigration medical exam and obtain permanent residence, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order.
The requirement will apply to both adjustment of status applicants in the United States (applying for Green Cards inside the U.S.) and immigrant visa applicants applying for green cards abroad at U.S. embassies and consulates.
☝ Only applicants who are age-eligible and deemed medically appropriate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be held to the new requirement.
️ The CDC has added COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations already required of those seeking U.S. lawful permanent residence.
📑 The new CDC policy includes guidance regarding waivers and testing for adjustment of status and immigrant visa applicants as follows:
Blanket waivers: Blanket waivers of the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will apply to applicants who are younger than the lowest age limit for available vaccines in their jurisdiction, as well as for those who can document a medical contraindication. Also, in certain circumstances, if the COVID-19 vaccine is not routinely available in the jurisdiction of the U.S. civil surgeon or panel physician performing the medical exam, the applicant may be permitted a blanket waiver.
Waiver based on religious or moral convictions: If an applicant objects to COVID-19 vaccination on religious or moral grounds, the applicant must submit a waiver request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will determine if the waiver is granted. Neither the examining physician nor the CDC can make this determination.
Tests for immunity: The CDC advises that lab tests for COVID-19 immunity are not to be conducted as part of the green card medical exam. Applicants must receive the vaccine regardless of evidence of immunity or prior COVID-19 infection. The CDC notes that this is because the duration of immunity due to natural infection is still being investigated and may not protect the applicant throughout the immigration process.
Shepelsky Law Group – Immigration Experts
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