What Are the Vaccine Requirements for Immigrant Visas (Green Card)?
You may have heard that a medical examination is required as part of the U.S. immigrant visa process. The immigrant visa, also referred to as a green card, is granted to applicants for U.S. permanent residency. Among other health-related eligibility grounds, receiving up-to-date immunization is required to successfully complete the medical examination as part of the green card process.
Before we entered a global pandemic, vaccination requirements were already an integral part of the U.S. immigrant process. Effective October 1, 2021, USCIS requires applicants for immigrant visas to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series in addition to the already required vaccines. If you have obtained mandatory or routine vaccines throughout your childhood and later in life, as well as the COVID-19 vaccine series, you will likely pass the vaccine requirement with ease. If you have certain medical contraindications, resided in areas with vaccine shortages, or hold religious or moral beliefs contrary to immunizations, you may face additional requirements during the admissibility requirement.
Today, our legal team at the Milovic Law Firm breaks down the vaccination requirements as part of the immigrant visa process, also referred to as the green card or permanent residency. This blog is intended to help you better understand the USCIS vaccine requirement and availability of waivers if you are not fully vaccinated. Keep reading for a comprehensive list of required vaccines and potential vaccine waivers.
Vaccination Requirements for Immigrants
What are the vaccine requirements for immigrant visas? USCIS implements its vaccine requirements through the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and through the guidance of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The INA provides a list of vaccinations that all prospective immigrants are required to receive before obtaining U.S. permanent residency, also known as the green card. The list of required vaccines intends to prevent various communicable diseases such as:
- Mumps, measles, and rubella
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
- Hemophilus influenza type B
- Hepatitis B
The CDC also requires certain vaccinations they deem are in the best interest of the public health. These types of required vaccinations are meant to protect against:
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
- Hepatitis A
Available Vaccination Waivers
Part of the immigration process involves undergoing a medical examination with a USCIS approved medical surgeon. To successfully complete the medical examination, you must supply proof that you have received the required vaccinations. You may have received the vaccinations in the past, or you can obtain the required vaccines during the immigration process. If you fail to do so, you will likely be deemed inadmissible unless you qualify under one of the available waivers.
There are several grounds available which may grant the applicant a waiver to the vaccination requirement. The grounds for receiving a waiver to the vaccination requirements may include the following:
- Vaccine is not medically appropriate. A vaccine may be deemed medically inappropriate if the applicant falls outside the allotted age range; has a medical contraindication*; the vaccine series is outside the sufficient time interval; it is not the flu season, or the vaccine for the specific flu strain is no longer available.
- *Medical contraindication means one will likely experience a life-threatening condition if the vaccine is administered. This could be a form of an allergic reaction, state of being pregnant or immune-compromised.
- Nationwide vaccine shortage. The CDC may assert there is a nationwide vaccine shortage which may impose a blanket waiver exempting immigrants from the specific vaccine requirement.
- Vaccine is not routinely available. This waiver is granted when a vaccine is not routinely available in the state where the civil surgeon practices. For medical examinations conducted overseas, a nationwide shortage should be marked as “not routinely available” to grant a waiver.
- Vaccine is contrary to religious belief or moral conviction. This type of waiver may be granted if the vaccine requirement is contrary to the applicant’s religious beliefs or moral convictions. The applicant must be opposed to vaccinations in any form due to their sincere belief or conviction and should provide supporting documents in support of this assertion. The immigration officer will review the supporting evidence and make a discretionary determination.
Best Immigration Attorneys in Phoenix, AZ
Have more questions about the vaccine requirements for immigrant visas? Allow us to introduce you to our expert team here at the Milovic Law Firm. Not only are we able to explain the green card process, including the medical examination and available waivers, our skilled attorneys can guide you through the immigration process with compassion and diligence.
If you are ready to get started, contact our team for a free consultation today.