Starting on October 1, 2021, your COVID-19 vaccine status may determine whether your immigration case is successful. U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State will soon require COVID-19 vaccines for all applicants seeking lawful permanent residence or refugee status in the United States.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be required for applicants who receive their medical exam on or after October 1, 2021. If you completed your medical exam prior to October 1, 2021, and it was valid at the time of submission, you are not required to get the vaccine. Blanket waivers are available to those who are too young to receive the vaccine, have a medical condition that puts them at an increased risk of a serious adverse reaction and for those who do not have access to one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in their country. In addition, individuals may apply for a waiver based on religious or moral convictions. USCIS will consider these waivers on a case-by-case basis.
Anyone who does not meet one of the exceptions above must provide proof of the vaccine or they will not be admitted to the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established special instructions for civil surgeons to help them combat COVID-19 in the United States. Applicants will not be admitted to the country unless they test negative for COVID-19 and provide documentation of their vaccination.
Due to determinations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the COVID-19 vaccine now meets the criteria for required vaccination.
As such, the CDC has updated its requirements for immigration medical examinations.
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Unlike other vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines adhere to a different timeline. You cannot get your vaccine during or just before your medical examination unless you receive the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, you must get two (2) doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine within 21 to 28 days.
Failure to get a vaccine without a waivable reason could result in your application for lawful permanent residence or refugee status being denied.
If you are concerned about your age, your children, your health, or another factor that may prevent you from getting a vaccine, speak to an immigration attorney about your legal options.
Salas Law is ready to assist you. We have more than 20 years of hands-on experience, we focus on immigration, and most importantly, we are committed to clients like you.