Green card applicants will now need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to immigrate to the United States. The new policy goes into effect Oct. 1.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in a statement Tuesday it will now require those seeking permanent residence to show proof of vaccination when attending the immigration medical exam. The exam is a necessary step in the green card application process to ensure the applicant has no known health conditions that would make them inadmissible to the United States.
Green card applicants already are required to show proof of certain vaccinations.
What You Need to Know About the New COVID-19 Requirement
Applicants must be fully vaccinated and show evidence of vaccination to the physician during the medical exam. Many of the available COVID-19 vaccines require two shots, spaced a few weeks apart, for full protection. If an applicant has only received one dose at the time of their scheduled medical exam, they are permitted to return and complete the rest of the exam after they have gotten the second dose.
Acceptable forms of proof are:
- Official vaccination record or copies of a medical chart
- Records should include the dates (month, day, and year) the applicant received the vaccine
- Name or manufacturer and lot number should be included if available
- The document should not appear to have been altered
A lab test showing natural immunity from a prior COVID-19 infection will not be accepted.
Reasons for exemption from this requirement:
- Age: Applicants who are too young to receive the vaccine (as of Aug. 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people older than 12, while Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is approved for those 18 years or older).
- Contraindications: Those who have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving the vaccine.
- Not routinely available: Those who live in a state where there is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
- Religious or moral convictions: Applicants can request a waiver based on religious or moral convictions. They will need to submit their waiver request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and it is up to USCIS whether or not to grant the waiver.
If an applicant refuses the vaccine even if there is no medical reason for doing so, their vaccine requirement form will be marked as incomplete during the medical exam, and they won’t be allowed to enter the United States.
For more information about vaccines, read our in-depth guide about the vaccination requirements for a green card and what you need to know about getting the COVID-19 as an immigrant.