Alert! Starting October 1, 2021, COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Most Green Card Applicants
Updated: Sep 9
Client Alert! Effective October 1, 2021, green card applicants must receive the Covid-19 vaccination series in order to complete their medical examination. The new requirement is applicable whether the applicant is pursuing adjustment of status in the United States or an immigrant visa application abroad at a U.S. embassy or consulate. This change comes in the wake of the recommendation by The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that the general US population be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccination, following age-appropriate guidelines. Civil surgeons are expected to keep up with changing recommendations regarding the Covid-19 vaccinations, including any expansions including younger children or any other new precautions or contraindications.
Unless a waiver to this requirement applies, failure to comply with the requirement will result in a finding that the green card applicant is inadmissible to the United States, further resulting in the denial of the adjustment of status or immigrant visa application. Immigrants applying for a green card will be required to present documentation of completing the vaccine routine to the civil surgeon who performs the medical examination. Such documentation must be presented in person. Acceptable forms of documentation include: official vaccination records or copies of medical charts with entries made by a physician or other appropriate medical personnel. The records of vaccine doses must include the dates of receipt, including the month, day and year. They should also ideally include the name or manufacturer of the particular vaccine series the applicant received, and the lot number, if available. Altered documents are not acceptable, nor are self-reported vaccine doses without written documentation to confirm such reports. If the COVID-19 vaccine is available to the civil surgeon, the civil surgeon may vaccinate applicants and document the doses.
In light of this new requirement, green card applicants should keep in mind the dosage timelines for the COVID-19 vaccine, as it will not be possible to complete a medical examination until the COVID-19 vaccination process is fully concluded. At this time, green card applicants may choose any of the three COVID-19 vaccinations widely available in the United States, including the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (21 day timeline), the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (28 day timeline), or the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine (1 day timeline).
As with the other vaccination requirements, there are blanket waivers for the COVID-19 vaccination, which, where applicable, allow an applicant for adjustment of status to apply for the benefit without being found inadmissible for failure to comply with the requirement of being vaccinated against COVID-19. Such waivers include:
- not age appropriate;
- the applicant has a contraindication to the vaccination;
- the vaccination is not routinely available in the state where the civil surgeon practices; or
- religious or moral convictions.
Should an applicant refuse a COVID-19 vaccine series in part or in its entirety, the civil surgeon is expected to document that the vaccination requirements were not met because the applicant refused the vaccination. The applicant will then be found inadmissible, unless one of the above waivers apply.