Starting October 1, 2021, USCIS will require all green card and other immigrant visa applicants to get the Covid-19 vaccine to be eligible to be a lawful permanent resident in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) order, green card applicants must be fully vaccinated (get the complete 2-part series) of a WHO approved vaccine before they go for their interview. Covid-19 vaccine has been added to the mandatory list of other vaccinations required for the adjustments of status and to those applying for immigrant visas at US consulates and embassies abroad.
As part of the green card process, all applicants have to undergo a medical evaluation performed by a designated Civil Surgeon that establishes that the green card applicant is not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds. This also includes a set of vaccinations including the Covid-19 vaccine that need to be taken as part of the approval process.
The Civil Surgeon submits the report in a sealed envelope as the Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination & Vaccination Record.
Covid Vaccine Requirement For US Green Card
After October 1, 2021, all applicants for US green card will need to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination. Alternately, they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine from the Civil Surgeon they have their medical exam with. Applicants will have to make a prior appointment to ensure availability of the WHO approved vaccine at the doctor’s clinic.
IMPORTANT:Green card applicants must receive the full vaccine series to have this mandatory requirement fulfilled. Some Covid-19 vaccines like the Pfizer has two doses depending on the formula while Johnson & Johnson has only one does. The applicant’s medical exam is not considered complete till they have received the complete COVID-19 vaccine series.
Proof Of Covid Vaccination Record
Applicants are responsible for submitting documentation that they received the COVID-19 vaccine series. This can be in the following accepted forms of documentation:
- The official vaccination record,
- If the vaccine was taken in the US, you can request a copy of the records from the City office,
- A copy of the medical records requested from the Health Information Management department at the hospital or clinic you took your vaccine,
- A copy of your medical chart with entries made by a physician that notates that you have taken all the required vaccine doses.
Additional Requirements For Immigrants Applying For Green Cards Abroad
Individuals applying for lawful permanent residence at US embassies and consulates abroad have to follow some additional requirements, including but not limited to:
- COVID-19 testing: If the applicant has symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of scheduling or attending their medical exam, they must be tested for COIVD-19 infection. A medical exam cannot be conducted until they have met criteria for recovery. This could include quarantining for 14 days, and getting a negative test report before scheduling another appointment for a medical exam.
- Close contact with people infected with COVID-19: Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must complete 14 days of quarantine before they can pass their medical exam.
Who Is Exempted From Taking The Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccine?
CDC has mandated that all green card applicants will have to take the Covid-19 vaccine before their visa interview to be admissible in the US as a permanent resident. If you refuse to take the full COVID-19 vaccine series without a waiver, you will be inadmissible to the United States.
The following waivers excuse green card applicants from taking the Covid-19 vaccination:
- Minors Under 12: Since the vaccine is approved only for recipients 12 years and older, anyone younger than 12 are exempted.
- Medical Condition/Exception: Anyone who has a medical condition, allergy or any other medically justified condition that prevents them from taking the Covid-19 vaccine, they have to get a doctor’s approval in writing to be exempted from the vaccine.
These CDC approved contraindications and precautions are available on the CDC website or can be obtained from your doctor’s office.
- Waiver on the Grounds of Religion: An applicant may request a waiver on religious or moral grounds. They will have to file a request with USCIS to be granted a waiver.
- Unavailable: If for any reason, the Covid-19 vaccine is ‘not routinely available’ in your area, you can get a temporary waiver from getting the vaccine. However, this has to be documented by the examining Civil Surgeon. The applicant will have to make arrangements to get the Covid vaccine soon after.
USCIS and the CDC have added the Covid-19 vaccine to the mandatory list of vaccines that all green card applicants require to be eligible for admission into the United States of America. Green card applicants who attend their medical exam without proof of COVID-19 vaccination will experience processing delays and/or denials unless they previously qualified for a waiver.