Applicants applying for permanent residence should be aware that USCIS has recently updated its policies to incorporate COVID-19 vaccination as part of its required medical examination. Effective October 1, 2021, any applicant for the required immigration medical examination must complete the Covid-19 vaccination series and provide proof of such, in order for the civil surgeon to sign off on Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. Depending on which approved vaccine the applicant elects to use, the dosage may be one or two shots, depending on formulation. Pfizer and Moderna are administered in two doses; Johnson and Johnson, one.
Medical Grounds of Inadmissibility
Even if an applicant otherwise satisfies legal eligibility for adjustment of status, the government may only approve a case, absent a waiver, where there is no health-related ground of inadmissibility. Applicants may be deemed inadmissible for health-related reasons on four grounds:
- Communicable disease of public health significance
- Failure to show proof of required vaccinations
- Physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior, and
- Drug abuse or addiction
With respect to vaccines, the following are some of the more prominent required under both the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”):
- Mumps, measles, rubella
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
- Haemophilius influenza type B
- Hepatitis B
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
- Hepatitis A
The new policy does provide for blanket waivers in certain situations. Blanket waivers may only be extended where vaccinations are not age appropriate; contraindicated due to a medical condition; not routinely available where the doctor practices; or vaccines are limited due to limited supply, and would result in significant delay for the applicant to receive the vaccination.
Otherwise, an individual not willing to undergo the required covid vaccination will need to apply for an individual waiver. Currently, USCIS will review and evaluate waiver requests based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. Waiver requests are submitted on Form I-601.