Effective October 1, 2021, per an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), and the US Department of State (“DOS”) will require all applicants for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) or refugee status to provide proof of receiving all appropriate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, unless an exception applies.
As background, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that foreign nationals applying for admission to the US as a lawful permanent resident, including applicants within the US applying for Adjustment of Status, must “present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases…” Effective October 1, 2021, COVID-19 will be added to the list of vaccine-preventable diseases, and any Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, completed on or after October 1, 2021, must indicate the applicant has received the COVID-19 vaccination or an exception applies.
Limited exceptions to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be available where the COVID-19 vaccine is (1) not age appropriate; (2) the applicant has a contraindication or medical precaution to the COVID-19 vaccine; or (3) the COVID-19 vaccine is “not routinely available” where the applicant’s Civil Surgeon practices. In addition, an applicant may request a waiver to the vaccine on religious or moral grounds, although that waiver will be adjudicated by USCIS or DOS, and not the CDC. If an applicant refuses the COVID-19 vaccine, and an exception or waiver does not apply, the applicant will be deemed inadmissible to the US and ineligible for lawful permanent residency or refugee status.