The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin requiring applicants for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence (green card applicants) to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 beginning October 1, 2021.
The green card application process includes a medical examination from a doctor that is designated by USCIS as a civil surgeon. That doctor will examine the applicant for any health-related conditions that would make the applicant inadmissible to the United States and, as a result, ineligible for a green card (e.g., tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea Hansen’s disease (leprosy), cholera, diphtheria, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, polio, SARS, and a few others). That doctor is also required to confirm that the applicant has been vaccinated against certain vaccine-preventable diseases (e.g., mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, varicella, influenza, and pneumococcal pneumonia).
Beginning on October 1, 2021, USCIS civil surgeons will also be required to confirm that an applicant has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. That means the entire series of vaccines (either one dose or two doses depending on the formulation of vaccine).
For applicants with a verifiable medical contraindication or precaution for the COVID-19 vaccine, or for applicants that are too young to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the rules at the time, this requirement will be waived.
For others who may have a religious or moral objection to the COVID-19 vaccine, it has been announced that there will be an opportunity for a case-by-case waiver of this requirement. However, a waiver request must be filed with USCIS, it will be up to USCIS’s discretion whether to grant the waiver or not, and no guidance has yet been given for how to prepare and file such a waiver request. It remains to be seen how willing USCIS will be to grant such a waiver.Our team at David Swaim & Associates will continue to watch for any news on this developing issue.
Senior Associate Attorney – Dallas, Texas
David Swaim and Associates, P.C.