In order to qualify for permanent residence in the US, applicants must meet a number of eligibility requirements. People are understandably fixated on criminal, entry, and financial issues but should not neglect health admissibility requirements. Even if an applicant meets all other criteria, an application can still be denied if there are any health concerns. For example, USCIS specifies that applicants must demonstrate that they have had the following vaccinations:
- Mumps, measles, rubella;
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids;
- Haemophilius influeza type B; and
- Hepatitis B;
- Pneumococcal pneumonia;
- Hepatitis A;
If an applicant has not received all of the listed vaccinations, the officer can denote that the person has a Class A condition and be ruled inadmissible. In general, someone who has been deemed inadmissible may be eligible for the following waivers:
- The applicant has received the vaccinations (by the date of the decision on the adjustment application) which he/she previously failed to receive;
- A civil surgeon or panel physician certifies that such vaccination would not be medically appropriate; or
- The requirement would be contrary to the applicant’s religious or moral convictions.
The vaccinations will be reflected on Medical Form I-693 which will be completed by a designated civil surgeon. In most cases that we have seen, the vast majority of applicants will have all their vaccinations done except the COVID-19 shots. If there is a religious or moral objection to taking the COVID shots, an applicant must apply on Form I-601 for a waiver and demonstrate that:
- The applicant is opposed to all vaccinations in any form; and
- The religious belief or moral conviction must be sincere.
As this is a discretionary decision made by an officer, it is especially important to assemble any documentation or corroborating evidence that buttresses an applicant’s claim, and carefully consider how one is going to prove the sincerity of one’s faith or moral beliefs. It is not enough to be opposed to just some shots or opposed to vaccinations on the basis of scientific grounds without any connection to one’s conscience or religious beliefs. Please note that this is not just a matter of filing a form. If the above grounds are not scrupulously followed, the waiver will be denied, ultimately resulting in a denial of the adjustment of status application.
If you are seeking a waiver of the COVID-19 shots, our office can help you.